The Care Bears were one of the most successful franchises I remember from the 80's. It all started in 1981 when American Greetings created these mystical characters. In 1983, they were brought to life for the first time on the half-hour TV special, "The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings". I never saw that special, mostly because I wasn't born yet. I'm sure it came out on video, but I still never saw it until recently. It was kind of odd, and it had a feel as if I were watching a Rankin & Bass feature. Following that in 1984 came another TV special called "The Care Bears vs. the Freeze Machine", or something like that. Then, the very next year, all this Care Bear franchise would evolve to a whole new level, when we were given the very first Care Bears movie in 1985.
(Warning! I give a lot away!)
The movie starts out in this nursery where these little kids are about to go to bed, and then a kind old man enters and entertains the kids with a juggling act. Now, some fans who are watching this are thinking, "What the hell is all this? Why aren't they here yet?" while the rest are thinking, "They're coming...They're coming..." Anyway, the children ask Mr. Cherrywood to tell them a story.
He starts telling the story about the Care Bears and their home, Carealot. As he continues, we fade in to see the camera going up into the sky. This is when we know that we're about to see, for the very first time, the Care Bears on the big screen. But then, the title card comes up, and the camera does a slow pan of Carealot, so now the suspense is delayed even more! Come on...Come on!...
There they are!
Unlike the previous TV specials, in this movie, the Care Bears are more developed, and the songs really set the mood up perfectly. Carole King and John Sebastian were the perfect performers for the songs in this movie. They're all great songs that anyone can sing along to.
Anyway, the story begins with these two kids named Kim and Jason who stopped caring about everything because their parents abandoned them. Having heard this, the Care Bears sent down the Jay and Silent Bob of Carealot, Friend Bear and Secret Bear, to try to convince them to feel more positive.
Meanwhile, Tender Heart, the leader of the Care Bears, went on a search for a boy who needed friends. He found a clumsy magician's apprentice named Nicholas.
Nicholas has just stumbled onto this ancient spell book, which holds...
AN EVIL CRAZY SCARY SPIRIT!
This spirit caused Nicholas to turn evil. Instead of making friends, he gets tricked into reading the spells in the book and casting spells to cause everyone in the world to stop caring.
Meanwhile, in Carealot, the Care Bears managed to teach Kim and Jason how important it was to care. One of the other bears said she found some parents who would adopt them, but suddenly, a huge disaster occured in Carealot. The Bears discovered that the Caring Meter was dropping down warning them that there is less care in the world. The kids decide to help the Care Bears thanks to what they did for them. That Caring Meter always creeped me out with that eerie sound it always made when it dropped.
There seems to be a lot of darkness in this movie. I mean, why is this movie so dark? It's for kids!
Seriously. Have you ever seen a little kids movie that has so much darkness in it? Other than this movie, I haven't. Imagine if they made a Teletubbies movie and put a lot of scary darkness and catchy songs in it. It'll be like this movie.
And of course, what Care Bears movie would be complete without a Care Bear Stare? Yes, that's when they shoot lazers out of their stomachs and force the evil to be good! You gotta love that radical sound they make with that Stare!
On a whole, the first Care Bears movie is a very enjoyable movie. It's not a theatrical masterpiece, but it's a good movie, and it leaves you with a happy feeling at the end.
Why don't they make movies like this anymore?
It was a little bit of a surprise that the very next year, there was a sequel: "The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation". Unlike the first movie, this one doesn't rely as much on suspense in the beginning. The title card is just there right away, and then the Care Bears just abruptly show up.
We're introduced to these two characters that we've never seen before: True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse. All the Care Bears and Care Cousins that we all loved from the first movie are all babies. True Heart and Noble Heart are training them to become real caring creatures. When the movie starts up, some may feel that the plot needs some more exploration, but it builds up throughout the movie.
The main villain in this movie is Dark Heart. Dark Heart is an evil cloud that can take up the form of anything. The plot of this movie is that True Heart and Noble Heart are trying to stop Dark Heart once and for all, while at the same time raise their cubs and help these three kids at summer camp who claim that they're not good at anything. The cubs eventually grow up and help their supreme leaders in the battle.
Like the first movie, this movie has a handful of catchy songs. The difference is these songs are a little more upbeat, and unfortunately, Carole King and John Sebastian didn't write them. The darkness in this movie is a little toned down with some funny moments such as when Dark Heart sneaks into Carealot, and the cubs all mess around with him.
The ending to this one is a little more complex than the first one. At the final battle, Dark Heart kills Christie, but he realizes what he did wrong and asks the Care Bears to bring her back to life. Everyone works together chanting "We care!" And to make it look like True Heart was talking to the audience really brings a lot of power into the scene. Now where does this sound familiar? Oh! Anyone remember "Peter Pan"? I'm not talking about the "I do believe in fairies" chant in the recent movie, but I'm talking about the stage play. Just before the intermission, Tinker Bell drinks poison in her bid to save Peter, and then Peter tells the audience to clap as hard as they can. The only difference is Tinker Bell dies in the play, in this movie, Christie successfully comes back to life.
You know what always happens with sequels, right? They just keep getting worse. The second Care Bears movie isn't quite as memorable as the first one, but it's still not too bad of a movie. The biggest flaw this movie had is it's continuity issues. In the first movie, the Care Bears have never met their cousins before, and the cousins didn't become official members of the family until the end of the movie. Despite the continuity issues, it's still an enjoyable movie. I guess I could say that it's so bad that it's just good. It's a guilty pleasure.
Should there be another Care Bears movie? No. Not after the ending the second one had. Well, guess what? There was a third installment to the Care Bears movies afterall.
The final installment to the Care Bears trilogy is known as "The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland", and take my word, it sucks! Why do I hate it? Well, let me point out the numerous flaws in it. First of all, they had no excuse for not calling it "The Care Bears Movie III". They numbered the second one, so why not the third one? Also, the movie never should have taken place in Wonderland; it should have taken place where the other movies did: Earth, Carealot, and the Forest of Feelings. The first two movies had their own unique animation styles, but this one copies the animation of the TV series (which also sucked). The songs in this movie are not as memorable as the songs in the previous movies. It's basically the Care Bear cast reinacting Lewis Carrol's hit novel, and they're teamed up with a girl named Alice. Okay, in reality, the plot is that the White Rabbit has come to Carealot to ask the Care Bears to help him find the princess of Wonderland, and they find this girl named Alice who looks like the princess and bring her to Wonderland to take her place until they find the real princess. This does not sound to me like a traditional Care Bear plot. Another thing I can't stand is the corny humor in this movie. Sure, each Care Bear movie had some corny humor in it, but this one went way too far. The running gag in the movie is Grumpy Bear always complaining about being hungry, and it ends with Grumpy emptying out the fridge and singing a rap during the closing credits (that's the only decent thing about this movie). It seems like the plots to the previous two Care Bears movies were just tossed out the window, and the creators of this movie just threw the Care Bears cast into a movie based off of a famous novel with all these unoriginal characters. Now, some people may like this movie, and at the time when I was such a big Care Bears fan, I just accepted it, but now, looking back at it, this movie is just so terrible that it never should have been made. Besides, this movie was a financial failure anyway. Remember when I said the second Care Bears movie was so bad that it's good? Well, this one is so bad that it's awful, and it makes me feel embarrassed to watch it. With that said, if these flaws were fixed, and the third movie had more of a feel to the prequels, we would have had a great trilogy of Care Bears movies, but what's past is past.
Now, the next year came another Care Bears movie known as "The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite". This was a direct-to-video movie, and I don't really include this movie in the catalog (much like how General Mills doesn't count Yummy Mummy as one of the monster-themed cereals). This one had sort of the same feel as "The Care Bears in Wonderland", except it was based off of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famous Nutcracker ballet. Oh, and this one sucked just as hard as the other one if not harder. Thankfully, there weren't any more Care Bears movies after this one until 2004. I haven't seen any of the three most recent ones, but I'm sure they're no exception. Nothing can beat the classic Care Bears.
In a sea of Care Bears movies, isn't it kind of odd how it all went downhill? For those of you who haven't seen any of these movies, if you can somehow get your hands on "The Care Bears Movie" or "Care Bears II", I reccomend you check them out, but if you see "Care Bears in Wonderland", just leave it alone. Being a baby and toddler of the 80's, I lived on the Care Bears. I just recently saw the first two movies for the first time in over 10 years, and they brought back such great memories. It took me a while to figure out that the Care Bears were really popular in the 80's (hence the line from "The Money Pit"), but you know what they say, "Nobody cares like a bear."