Brother Bear (2003) – A Forgotten Disney Gem

I know that it is a bit of a cliche to say a movie is “forgotten” or “underrated”. But, if Brother Bear (2003) doesn’t fit the bill… As a kid, I loved it because of the fun songs and the movie’s humor but now, as an adult, I love it even more because of its heart. Brother Bear is about family, both what you’re born into and what you find, loss, grief, and moving on.

Brother Bear tells the story of Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix), a young native American, who after watching his brother get killed by a bear, hunts down said bear and kills it. Only to then find himself being turned into a bear himself. He then goes on a journey to be turned back into a human. Along the way he meets other animals and gets hunted by his other brother.

Before I go any further, watch this clip. It’ll give you an idea of the humor and heart of this film, as well as glimpses at the other themes with only minor spoilers.

I think, from the clip, the humor speaks for itself. Plus, if you need more convincing, Rick Moranis plays a moose in this movie.

But, on top of that, the soundtrack is fantastic. Phil Collins AND Tina Turner? Sign me up.

As I said above, the movie is about family. As Kenai’s relationship with his now dead brother and his alive brother and the bond they share is a big part of the movie. But, his relationships with his found family, Koda the bear cub and many other animals, are just as important and impactful to the movie.

As you can probably guess, the themes of loss and grief come naturally with Kenai’s story. But, it also comes in Koda’s story, the bear cub Kenai meets and befriends, who has recently lost his mom. The movie tackles death and the grief that comes along with it, but also that death doesn’t have to be the end, and people can still be with us even after they’re gone.

I’m truly afraid to say much more, because this movie should be viewed as fresh as possible. But, if you don’t cry for basically the last twenty minutes of the movie then I don’t know what to tell you. You can watch it on Disney+ and see for your self.

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