In 10 Words or Less
Cute and cuddly and loaded with lessons
Loves:When my daughter's happy
Likes: A cartoon with a point
Dislikes: Overly preachy kids TV
Hates: Reboots of classic cartoons
Through the magic of Netflix' streamed offerings, my daughter recently discovered the Care Bears movies I watched as a child, and she fell in love immediately. (It's good to know the value of traditional animation isn't lost on a generation awash in flash and CG cartoons.) Exploring a bit more, intent on finding more of these caring, sharing bears, she came across these new shows, created in recent years as a Saturday morning series. Though the concept remains the same, the look and feel has changed.
The Care Bears are now a select group of cuddly little teddy bears, each representing a personality element, be it sharing or happiness or even grumpiness. These personalities are displayed via their "belly badges," images on their tummies that are the source of their caring powers, which they use to help others. That's the main purpose of the residents of Care-a-lot, though here it's about helping each other, unlike the original Care Bears, who acted like guardian angels to the people of Earth.
Nearly every 10-minute "adventure" is focused on teaching a positive lesson of some sort, like learning to share, yet still leaving something for yourself, not being scared of things that are different and the importance of doing your work before playing. Though they are mainly involved in inter-Care Bear issues, like discovering how hard it is to babysit baby bears, there are a few conflicts, thanks to Grizzle, a mean little bear with a robotic body who wants to take over Care-a-lot. There's nothing subtle about the morals they learn, as the bears simply say the lesson after solving the current conundrum, but at least their point gets across. And the cuteness factor will far outweigh the plot for most young ones watching.
Though the show is loaded with positivity and cuteness, which makes it appealing to parents and children respectively, there's one element that's unwelcome and that's McKenna, a young girl brought to Care-a-lot from Earth. Like a Bratz doll invading the sweet world of plush animals, this big-headed girl with pink-striped hair brings a bad attitude with her in her two appearances, despite the Care Bears treating her quite nicely, in the hopes of turning her around. Her behavior is certainly not role-model material for the kids watching, and there aren't really any consequences for how she acts. In fact, she's actually rewarded at one point, and continues her negative behavior. If kids aren't going to get any real educational value out of a show like this, the least they could get are some good role models.
A one-disc release holding eight episodes, this DVD is packed in a standard keepcase. The disc has an animated, full-frame menu with options to watch all the episodes, select shows and check out the extras. There are no audio options and no subtitles, but closed captioning is included.
The full-frame transfers look very nice, presenting the animation clearly with bright, appropriate color and not much in the way of negatives like dirt, damage or compression artifacts. Overall, it's a pretty solid presentation.
The audio, is presented via Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that do a fine job with the sound and music, but it's not the most challenging mix ever. Everything is straight down the middle, with nothing dynamic to offer.
The only extra is a trio of trailers for other releases. That's not sharing or caring.
The Bottom Line
Coming in somewhere between the classic animation of the original films and the disappointing CG-animation of the new movies, these are moralistic little shorts that have enough cuteness going on to entertain little ones long enough to get the morale of the story. The disc looks and sounds fine, but has no extras, so the value is limited to cutting out the Saturday morning commercials.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.