Parents' Guide to

Brother Bear

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Cute bear tale has some peril.

Movie G 2003 85 minutes
Brother Bear Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 5+

Based on 21 parent reviews

age 6+

This site’s review is horribly off.

Ignore what CommonSenseMedia’s “expert review” says; before I talk about the film, I must criticize this normally excellent website for this. The lackluster description is lazy (pitifully short) and wrong, as there are some fight scenes that are pretty intense and probably too much for kindergarteners, and some of the content might go over their heads. I am a father as well as a teacher of elementary and middle school (everything from kindergarten to 6th). Without giving away the plot, let me state that this movie is deep, with much-needed lessons of compassion and the causality of actions. Kenai, the main character, undergoes a tremendous amount of change. In the beginning, he is an ignorant teen that is motivated by pride, anger, and a desire to become a “man”, which he misunderstood as being only the macho sense of the word. Early in the film, he decides to skip on his responsibilities, which is a mistake that sets off a chain of events. Pride and anger drive him to make further bad decisions that drag many other lives along too. After a certain point, a glimpse of compassion for a bear cub leads him to take responsibility. This is the point at which he changes. This film’s plot is centered around morality. Its lessons are some that all children should learn, but not merely by watching the movie; you should talk with your child about the decision-making of Kenai after the movie is over (go over his mistakes and how each one led to something tragic, discuss what he did to try to make things better, and then talk about how his decision making will be different in the future). Due to the intensity of some fight scenes, I would recommend waiting until your child is 6 or 7.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
4 people found this helpful.
age 7+

Too much for my 6 and a half year old daughter

My six and a half year old daughter was shown this movie at school, and was upset by it. She’s usually pretty brave, and isn’t put off by light cartoon violence (Miraculous is one of her favorite shows, and it’s action-packed and occasionally pretty intense), but she told me she thought this one was too violent and too scary for her. She said the movie itself was ok, but I could tell she was a little shell-shocked by the sheer intensity of the drama and the violence.

This title has:

Too much violence
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (21 ):
Kids say (37 ):

The most imaginative part of this Disney animated feature, set in the Pacific Northwest at the end of the Ice Age, is the sunlight on the glaciers. It is magnificently rendered. The grandeur of the settings is nicely evoked, especially after Kenai becomes a bear and the screen literally opens up and brightens. Other than that lovely glimpse of majesty and artistry, the movie is right off the assembly line, an uninspired and lackluster story told with some visual flourish and a few cute moments but without much energy.

There are some exciting moments when Kenai fights the bear and when Kenai and Koda race through a sulfurous geyser field. There are some funny moments with SCTV veterans Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis as a pair of silly moose brothers. But the music by Phil Collins is mediocre, even when legends Tina Turner and the Blind Boys of Alabama do their best to add some spirit. All cultures have legends of physical transformation as a way of making more accessible the idea of spiritual and emotional change. These stories can be compelling and deeply meaningful, even for children. But here, the story is just too superficial and the script is too pseudo-mythological. The conclusion may strike some in the audience as jarring.

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