We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Bears: They’ve often occupied the top spot on the ThreatDown, the running list of creatures and things Americans should fear most on "The Colbert Report." But the bears of "Bears" are mainly the playful, adorable kind, and not the ones who come down from the mountains to rummage through your suburban garbage cans in the middle of the night.
This is the latest documentary from the folks at Disney’s Disneynature label, which releases a family-friendly non-fiction film just about every year around Earth Day. "Earth" (2009) and "Oceans" (2010) were both stunning examples of the possibility of this genre. Entertaining and educational, they featured plenty of jaw-dropping, how’d-they-get-that-shot moments, and they made exotic, faraway lands seem accessible. "African Cats" (2011), likewise, was beautiful but plagued by pervasive narration from Samuel L. Jackson over-explaining every instinct and action in cutesy fashion.
"Bears" also features nearly wall-to-wall voiceover, but this time it comes courtesy of John C. Reilly. His inherently likable, goofy sweetness shines through, making the material, um, bearable, if you will. Having voiced the title character in Disney’s animated hit "Wreck-It Ralph," Reilly has some experience in this arena, and his jokey asides seem less hokey than they might have looked on paper.
Still, the cuddly (and condescending) anthropomorphism persists in the film from co-directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, both veterans of this genre—ostensibly to make the characters more relatable for the littlest kids in the audience. (The recent IMAX 3-D documentary "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar" mercifully was free of this narrative approach.)