A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Boonie Bears: To the Rescue is part of a series of Chinese animated features about two adventurous brother bears who fight to keep the local logger from cutting down their forest. Although cartoon violence is rampant, working together and doing the right thing is usually the message that turns the bears and the logger into allies by the end of the films. This film adds a lost small child who charms all she meets, even the cantankerous logger. Bears and people beat each other up, shoot at each other, fly perilously through the air, hang from helicopters, smash into things, drop to the ground from great heights, and drive dangerously in speeding vehicles. The little girl is constantly in jeopardy but never sustains any injuries.
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What's the story?
BOONIE BEARS: TO THE RESCUE begins as the maniacal and fevered Logger Vick plans to work overtime to meet his boss's new logging quota with brand-new saws the boss provided in a suitcase. Until he can retire and "spend the rest of my days rolling in cash" he'll be cutting down trees, facing the wrath of forest-protecting bears Briar and Bramble. In the meantime, two bad guys working for a third bad guy are driving around with an identical suitcase. When they lose it in the forest, a frantic chase ensues involving the two suitcases. Soon after, a toddler in diapers named Lola shows up at Vick's cabin, alarming him at first and ultimately charming him. Vick and the bears play with her affectionately until the bad guys kidnap her. Their boss wants the girl because she's the key to finding his enormous inheritance.
Is it any good?
Boonie Bears: To the Rescue, like the other Boonie Bears features, feels like a cartoon on amphetamines. It's the animated version of a movie from the violent action-fest Jason Bourne franchise, with nonstop mayhem, chases, fights, and stunts, much of it generated by the stupidity and recklessness of characters. First appearing in 2012, Boonie Bears quickly became the most popular children's show on Chinese television, and its originality, cleverness, and hectic energy make it clear why. The franchise has expanded from shorts to longer-form plots, including this one.
The logger and the bears are like classic cartoon antagonists Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, with the human inevitably outsmarted by the animals. No one gets terribly or permanently hurt and, as if to prove that the creators are really just gentle souls at heart, at one point Logger Vick is held down while bad guys tickle his feet as a form of "torture." At the outset, the movie also sets Vick at odds with the bears, yet they end up working together harmoniously by the story's end. It's as if the filmmakers' concern is to temper the uninterrupted violence with a soothing lesson about the value of working well with others.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the bears and logger treat each other as if they're enemies when previous adventures have already made them allies. What does this say about teamwork?
Does the violence in this movie seem scary? Does the fact that it's a cartoon tell you it's meant to be funny rather than frightening?
Although Logger Vick and the bears start out enemies, does the movie become more entertaining and satisfying when they work together to do good? Why?
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