Why, 2K?!- “The Country Bears” and “Dennis the Menace: Cruise Control”

The first decade of this millennium is often heralded as some sort of golden age for children’s films. Sure, most of Pixar’s best flicks came out in this period, and there were some winners in general, but I think people tend to view the films of their own childhood with rose-colored glasses. Most of these films are goddamn godawful. Just HOW goddamn godawful, you ask? Let’s find out together by checking out EVERY kids film between 2000 and 2009. From theatrical to direct-to-DVD to Disney Channel Original, we’ll look at ’em all because I am a glutton for punishment.

This week, I was not expecting this to be good but it was so I’m happy.

THE COUNTRY BEARS

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So look, I try to go into things with an open minds. I try really hard. But I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes you actually can judge a book by its cover. But this time I was wrong.

This movie is surprisingly delightful. It’s a musical, so it earns points right there, but a solid cast and incredibly well done animatronics make for a fantastic kids movie. My expectations were set really low and I had an enjoyable time.

Beary is a young bear being raised by a human family who idolizes the disassembled country group  The Country Bears. But his brother is a literal human monster who tells Beary point blank that he’s adopted. (Also the running joke that no one acknowledges Beary is a walking talking bear shouldn’t work as well as it does).

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Also, like I mentioned the animatronics are pretty great. Which is important because the movie would absolutely fall to pieces if not. They communicate emotion appropriately enough and somehow don’t look super terrifying all the time which is a shock.

Also, this movie has Diedrich Bader and Christopher Walken. And Stephen Root and Stephen Tobolowsky. That is a weird cast. Christopher Walken plays the villain. Any movie where that is true is automatically at least a little worth watching.

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So yeah, a fun kids movie, if you have to watch something with your Disney loving cousin, you could do far worse.

DENNIS THE MENACE: CRUISE CONTROL WORLD’S GREATEST DAD

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So like most films I pick when I can’t find the one I was looking for, this was just a movie on Netflix that looked interesting. I didn’t realize however that this was a Bobcat Goldthwait film. If I had, I would’ve watched it way sooner. Goldthwait’s filmography is predominantly dark comedies and uncomfortable ones at that.

This is no different. It’s haunting and funny and fascinating to watch. Look, Country Bears was good for a kids movie but this one will stick with me.

In the film Lance is an unpublished writer and teacher at a local high school with a sex obsessed asshole named Kyle for a son. Kyle is unlikable and morally repugnant but in a realistic way. I knew like three Kyles in high school.

But when Kyle dies via autoerotic asphyxiation and Lance, trying to cover it up, makes it look like a suicide and writes a note. After his death, the note makes Kyle an icon at the school and Lance finds new success profiting off of his son’s death.

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It’s a dark weird comedy that is indeed funny but also beautiful in its own very strange way. The characters are mostly manipulative and troubled in their own rights, with Kyle being the pinnacle of this. Kyle is THE WORST, but he’s still a nuanced and interesting character.

The balance struck is a very interesting one but it’s necessary to make Lance seem like not the best person, but not a terrible one either.

This is a movie I’m glad I watched, a unique weird experience I won’t soon forget.

Next week, some more weird shit. Promise.

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