HBO Go review: 'We Bare Bears' movie sends timely message about tolerance

Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 20 2020 06:41 AM

HBO Go review: 'We Bare Bears' movie sends timely message about tolerance 1

I had never seen any episode of the "We Bare Bears" animated television series on Cartoon Network. I first saw these three cute little bears as lovable plush toys in a Korean merchandise store in a mall. So when I found out that there will be a movie featuring them this year, I was curious to see what their story was going to be like. However on a sentimental note, this movie was actually the swan song of this series created by Daniel Chong first aired in 2015.

The three bears Grizzly, Panda and Ice were racing all across San Francisco trying to reach the grand opening of a Canadian food truck selling poutines. However, along the way, they leave a trail of damaged goods and disgruntled people. That night, the bears also tried to make the ultimate viral video which caused a city-wide blackout. This led the people to mount a protest against the bears living in their community. Seeing that local police officer Murphy was too lenient on the bears, Wildlife Control Agent Trout took over with an iron fist.

This was the first time I met the bears and I see why their series had mass appeal. Aside from their cute appearances, they also had endearing personalities and aw-shucks charm that make the audience root for them despite the messes they get themselves into. Grizz is the oldest of the brothers, and is the most friendly and optimistic. Panda is the more anxious middle brother and was the most concerned about his cool image on social media. Ice is the skillful and strong youngest brother who only spoke in short phrases.

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The artwork of the bears themselves may look simple, but the film had plenty of scenes with complex animation. The flight of the bears to Canada will bring them though a cornfield into a private rave party featuring celebrity animals who had been viral online, like Angry Kitty, Dramatic Cow, Painting Elephant, Jacked Kangaroo and Pizza Rat. Later on, they would engage Trout and his henchmen in an exciting high-speed car chase through a maze-like industrial complex. The grand climax will be a highly dramatic escape scene set in a wildlife reserve facility amidst a forest fire. 

This was quite a fun romp kids and kids at heart will enjoy. Amidst its light wholesome humor, you can pick up that there are some pretty serious social issues being tackled in this movie, such as tolerance of diversity and family separation. These reflect issues important to its creator Daniel Chong who had experienced alienation growing up as an Asian-American. 

The film did present difficulties for our three beloved bears, but they remained cheerfully hopeful and positive because they had each other. You will want a bear stack of your own.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."