“The Care Bears have a very special mission, and that mission is to help everyone share their feelings with others.”
That’s right folks. Let’s get ready for extremely corny, lovey-dovey colorful bears with random pictures painted on their bellies and a “weapon” that involves streaks of lighted feelings erupting from their stomaches. And you know what? I love every single minute of it.
The story of the Care Bears begins in the world of Marketing, sad to say. They were originally designed as greeting card designs by American Greeting Cards, then later turned into books, then toys, then finally movie and tv. Cute little bears that helped share feelings of love, sadness, etc, somehow turned into the biggest thing in the 80s for young children. Including me.
A lot of people really don’t like the Care Bears. I can see why. Every reason I listed in the first paragraph is why. But here’s why I liked them back then and I always will: I was a kid who needed the Care Bears. I was (and arguably still am) very withdrawn from other people. I never quite knew how to express what I was feeling. If I was mad or upset, I’d just leave the room. I’d hold everything in. Honestly? I still catch myself doing that, and then getting mad and blowing up for no good reason later. Watching the Care Bears as a kid helped me realize I had to voice what I was feeling to others; that voicing it could help fix it. In the end, isn’t that what the Care Bears purpose is all about?
Without getting too much into it, I feel that a lot of kids need the Care Bears. Especially these days when parents are working, nannies or babysitters are watching kids, and (I hate to say it), many parents just want their kids to work things out themselves and honestly don’t care about what their kids are feeling or why. I know it’s a touchy subject so I’m not going to linger, but adults forget that the target audience for this franchise are KIDS – young kids – ages 3-6. To us, it’s corny. But if the parents aren’t going to tell their kids it’s ok to express what they’re feeling, let the bears do it. That way they learn a valuable lesson. (Disclaimer: my parents were awesome. They always worked with me on voicing my feelings. The Care Bears just helped).
The story centers around two kids named Kim and Jason, who refuse to make friends because… everyone they befriend hates them…? It’s not quite clear. They’re orphans waiting to be adopted so I guess that makes sense. They’ve lost faith in people, which is probably quite justified. Friend Bear and Secret Bear end up inadvertently taking them to Care-A-Lot, where the Care Bears live, and they come around and realize making friends with talking bears is pretty cool. Meanwhile, another boy, Nicholas, gets seduced by the dark side, befriending a talking book with a scary green head who promises revenge for everyone who has ever been mean to him. He ends up getting rid of all the world’s feelings, and Care-A-Lot starts falling apart.
The rest of the movie is about them trying to stop Nicholas and this book. They go through some adventures trying to get to earth with their teleporter broken (beam me up, Scotty!), and meet some new friends. This was the introduction of kids to the Care Bear Cousins, or the other animals that end up in the Care Bear family (like a lion, elephant, penguin, etc). There are some scary moments for kids, but it was never anything that I ever remember scarring me for life. I wanted to watch the movie over and over. It couldn’t have been that bad.
The songs are great. Yes they’re corny and the lyrics are a bit preachy, but I think I’ve established that I love these little bears and I’m willing to see through the corniness. For kids, it’s great. They teach great lessons through songs (friends can always be relied on for hard jobs; even if we live in different places, some things about us are similar; share your feelings, etc).
My only issues with the movie are really minor, and they’re honestly things that my adult brain now just can’t overlook. The editing is HORRIBLE. There’s the wrong care bears in some scenes. There’s tummy symbols that appear and disappear. Colors in one scene just aren’t quite right. It was probably made quickly for money, so I’m honestly more impressed it does a good job at getting its message across for being put together like this.
Another issue I have is probably more just a logistics one that only I, now, would think of, because adults search for rationality. If the Care Bears live in the clouds, and the kids live on earth, and the Forest of Feelings (where the animals live) is between… where is that?? The lower clouds? An alternate dimension between? And how do they sail a boat down a river from the clouds to earth? I want to find that boat. Cause that would be awesome.
In the end, The Care Bears Movie (1985) is one I would definitely suggest if you have young kids. Especially if they’re sensitive, or have issues expressing themselves. It’s a wonderful little movie for them, and as an adult it’s not a chore to sit through if you can look past the corniness and remember that this movie IS for the kids. (at least in my opinion).
I give this movie 3.25 stars out of 5.
Next up: A Goofy Movie