I surely cannot be alone in the notion that The Country Bears is one of the most abominable creations in the history of cinema. It is weak, rambling, incoherent, unfunny, irritating, tedious and just plain stupid. With no shortage of bizarrely and ridiculously out-of-place moments, watching The Country Bears is a harrowing experience. A worthless and shameful film, it seems as though Disney has tried to hush this disgrace up as much as they could; I, unfortunately, stumbled upon it anyway at the recommendation of a supposed friend.
Based on a theme park ride, The Country Bears tells the story of a fictional band of anthropomorphic bears who have not only gained the ability to interact with humans, but also to play country music at an adept level, and do so without any question from the human race. This concept alone is awfully flimsy, but one would assume a company as experienced as Disney would be able to pull it off for a family film.
After a nauseating montage of bears playing god-awful country music, the audience (already molested on a cinematic level) is subjected to a dinner table scene that rivals that of Eraserhead on the defecate-yourself-in-fright-o-meter. Beary Barrington (a bear, just in case you hadn't guessed) decides to confront his human parents about the nature of his upbringing, as he is beginning to feel left out. It turns out that Beary is on to something, because although his parents deny anything fishy, stating that they will always love him no matter what, Beary's human brother Dex reveals to him that he is adopted. Enraged at this utterly shocking revelation, Beary leaves home and embarks on the trip of a lifetime.
Because he is the number one fan of the Country Bears, Beary heads to Country Bear Hall, the primary concert hall for the band before they split up. It is there that Beary learns from the property caretaker and the Country Bears' manager (who both happen to be at Country Bear Hall at the precise moment Beary arrives) that there are plans to demolish the building. Overseeing this act of pure evil is unhinged banker Reed Thimple – played by Christopher Walken.
To raise money for Country Bear Hall, Beary Barrington's IQ boosts itself by several hundred points and Beary suggests getting the band back together to do one final gig. Henry, the band's manager, seems to think this is a good idea and thus begins the odyssey of torturous ursine antics.
Imagine the first half of the 2011 Muppet film, except devoid of any wit whatsoever. The movie takes a standard road-trip story, and whilst trying and failing miserably to be a biting satire of country bands, throws in poorly thought-out (and equally as poorly executed) sequences of slapstick violence, turgid musical performances, and pseudo-Spielbergian familiarity, all to create a haemorrhage-inducing nightmare.
After a painfully irrelevant musical act in a restaurant, the band of bears discover they are wanted by the police for supposedly "kidnapping" Beary Barrington. Cue a police chase that would give Bullitt a run for its money, which features the policemen being sucked out of the patrol car into a car wash and subjected to the horrors of automobile cleaning, resulting in a side-splitting gag involving the policemen's disheveled hair.
At the wedding, the bears find Ted, but he refuses to play the last Country Bears gig (for reasons undisclosed). Instead of actually coming up with an intelligent way to resolve this problem, screenwriter Mark Perez settles the matter with one of the bears punching Ted in the face (knocking him out) and dragging him onto the bus against his will. When Ted regains consciousness, it's not touched on again.
Soon the Country Bears are fighting amongst each other about whether or not they are in fact a family (not in blood, but in bond). Beary Barrington somehow comes to the conclusion that the humans that raised him are his real family (totally irrespective of the fact that he is a bear), and thus he returns to his home to reunite with his human parents and brother. After finding and reading a piece of fan-mail from Beary, telling the Country Bears how much they meant to him, Ted visits Beary and apologises, seeing the error of his ways.
The film builds to a stunning climax as Christopher Walken kidnaps and threatens to kill the other Country Bears. It is at this point where the film dishes out a twist that would make even M. Night Shayamalan writhe with shock. I shan't spoil it for you, but I will say that Christopher Walken's character is a lot more layered than we were led to believe, and Mr Walken really gets to show off his acting chops.
Sarcasm aside, all the problems are resolved more or less peacefully (or not resolved at all), and the film finishes with not one, but TWO terrible songs from the Country Bears in their last gig. Beary Barrington even gets to perform with his idols, despite having no practice with them (or anyone else, for that matter). It makes no sense for the bears to be able to play musical instruments anyway – they don't have the thumbs for it.
The atrocious pacing and the vacuously prosaic music don't help this dire trainwreck of a movie, but it's the pathetic excuse for a screenplay that really turns this film to trash. The only thing redeemable about this film is Christopher Walken, but even his performance is only enjoyable from an ironic angle. The Country Bears is an insult to music, an insult to cinema, and an insult to the minds of children. I'm ashamed for the human race that this film has seen the light of day, and I hope that maybe we can learn from this heinous mistake so that the future may be a brighter place to live.