The Care Bears Movie (1985)
Starring: Voices of Mickey Rooney, Jackie Burroughs, Cree Summer, Sunny Thrasher
“They must be taught a lesson! A lesson for the children! A lesson for the town! A lesson for everyone!” (The Spirit, The Care Bears Movie)
First, a disclaimer. I watched the shit out of The Care Bears Movie when I was a wee tot, and it terrified me every single time. When I saw it was available on the US Netflix library (which can be accessed using this trick), I decided it would be the perfect film for That Was A Bit Mental, for reasons that will become obvious. Well, even more obvious than anthropomorphic bears that can project magical symbols from their guts.
The film opens on an orphanage, where delightful-old-man-and-not-at-all-a-padeo Mr Cherrywood (Mickey Rooney) is tucking the children into bed. They ask him for a bedtime story to help them sleep peacefully and he obliges, ill-advisedly deciding to tell them the one about the evil as fuck book that tried to plunge the Earth into misery.
Before that, Mr Cherrywood’s tale opens with Kim and Jason, two snotty little kids whose parents have “gone away” and hate everyone as a result. They’re so jaded with life they seemingly can’t even give an ounce of a fuck when two brightly coloured teddy bears approach them and ask to be their friends. Despite their best efforts, Friend Bear and Secret Bear (for it is they) don’t manage to win over Kim and Jason, despite delightful not-at-all-sinister-or-voyeuristic lines like “we know a lot of things about you: Kim reads a lot of books and wants to be a nurse when she grows up, and Jason, you want to be a jet pilot”.
That doesn’t matter though, because up in the world of Care-A-Lot the Care Bears are working on a new machine that can quickly teleport bears back there from Earth. The machine goes a little wonky though and as well as Friend Bear and Secret Bear, Kim and Jason are also beamed up to Care-A-Lot. Naturally they’re pissed off at the prospect of more annoying bears but in one of the quickest mood swings ever it only takes half a verse of a musical number to completely win them over. Handy.
Meanwhile, Tenderheart Bear has been sent to offer friendship to Nicholas, a wannabe magician who feels all alone because other kids make fun of him for playing with his wand all the time (ahem). It’s too late though because Nicholas has found a magic book, a book possessed by an evil spirit in the form of a big green face that looks like a cross between Grace Jones and the Wicked Witch from Snow White with food poisoning. The face teaches Nicholas some evil spells and he uses them at his next magic show to remove all the love from the children there. The face then tells Nicholas to collect some items for her so that they can both create a spell so evil that it’ll stop the entire world from caring about each other.
Tenderheart legs it back to Care-A-Lot to tell the Care Bears but they already know – somehow Care-A-Lot is linked to human emotion so as people on Earth stop caring it starts to wreck Care-A-Lot. If Nicholas manages to complete the spell then nobody on Earth will care about anyone and, to put it in the nicest way possible, the Care Bears are fucked.
So begins a journey consisting of numerous songs, various hijinks and a trip to the Forest Of Feelings, a mysterious new place with a bunch of cuddly new animals called the Care Bear Cousins (each sold separately). It’s at this point that it becomes abundantly clear The Care Bears Movie is simply a 75-minute advert for these new toys.
In fact, I remember the VHS tape I had as a child actually started with an advert for the Care Bear Cousin toys before the film even started. “What’s this?” many children would have thought at the time. “New characters?” They spoiled the big fucking surprise! Clearly the filmmakers realised most kids tend to turn a video off before the end credits have finished so they decided “let’s stick the ad at the start so they see it and buy the toys, to hell with the plot”. But I digress.
Considering its target audience The Care Bears Movie is one scary film. That bastard face-in-the-book gets more and more evil as the movie progresses – eventually speaking in two voices at once and changing colour – and there are plenty of other scary moments throughout such as the evil purple cloud that roams around, the giant tree monster that grabs the Care Bears and nearly eats them, and the final chase through a creepy fairground while a distressing song called “Look Out” plays in the background. Terror, thy name is Care Bears.
That aside, the rest of the film remains good-natured fun for very young children with lots of positive messages throughout, though it does overdo it a bit at times (“parents are wonderful, aren’t they?” asks Kim at one point. Easy, missus). All your favourite Bears are in there, though it’s annoying that my favourite, Good Luck Bear (or Celtic Bear as I used to call him, because his symbol looks like the Celtic FC logo) gets less screen time than even the annoying Care Bear baby twins, Baby Hugs and Baby Tugs (the latter being not only the name of a Care Bear but also a self-pleasuring technique for those recovering from genital surgery). And the twist ending (which went right over my head when I was a kid) is a delightful little treat, though if we’re to assume that Mrs Cherrywood is Kim then that means Jason is unaccounted for and in such circumstances I usually assume that means they died horribly. Poor Jason.
Um, anyway. The Care Bears Movie. If you have (or can borrow) some young kids watch it, because they’ll love it. If you don’t and you saw it when you were young, watch it again for nostalgic purposes because it holds up well (or just watch the trailer below for a quick childhood fix). If, however, you’ve never seen it before and don’t have a sprog to keep you company, by all means give it a go if you don’t mind feeling like a creepy old person.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
The Care Bears Movie is available for a few quid on DVD here. As mentioned before, it’s also available on the US Netflix library, which you can access from the UK using this trick.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more, here’s a complete list of reviews on That Was A Bit Mental.