CHILDHOOD REVISITED – THE CARE BEARS II: A NEW GENERATION


F*uck trees! The bastards.

F*ck trees! The bastards.

The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation – (1985)

Director: Dale Schott
Starring: Hadley Kay, Cree Summer, Maxine Miller, Dan Hennessey
Screenplay by: Peter Sauder

Why, you may ask, did I decide to tackle the sequel to The Care Bears Movie? Was the first one so incomplete that it warranted a viewing of the second one to feel more wholesome? Is my childhood so disappointing, so mundane, that I needed to force myself through another enterprise of excessive “caring” and “sharing” and “feelings” to warm my neglected heart? Am I an emotional sadist?

Like I’ve said in the past, I’m watching everything I watched as a kid, no if’s, and’s, or bu’ts about it. As I mentioned in my previous review, I was surprised that, at the very least, the first film developed a relatively straight-forward adventure of the cutest degree, even if the ending just wasted everything that preceded it. And besides, I’m still jonesing to find that ridiculously sad song I remember on of these movies having, even if I have to shove a trillion hearts, stars, and rainbows deep into my eyelids. I’m doing this all for you, dear readers.

NOSTALGIC LENS: Nothing distinctly from the first one. Both movies are the same blur of cute animals and clouds and hearts. I can’t remember anything significant that stood out from one movie over the other. Except. That. SONG.

DOES IT HOLD UP: I am a sucker for fantasy-created backstory. It always amazes me to experience the history/background of made-up characters, even if said characters are lame and bear-ly endearing (see what I did there?). While certain developed backstories are just obvious fluff and fanboy-based powergaming (Person X fought off the government/secret society/evil demons/cast of According to Jim), a solid, over-aching history really presents how creative and clever a writer can be. How well one thinks and showcases a real, devised world really brings weight and direction to any main story.

A New Generation does just that. It’s a prequel more than a sequel; it posits to tell how the Care Bear and the Care Bear Cousins came to be.

After, uh, GOD gives “Noah” Bear and his wife (or significant other—the gender is never made clear) a place to live among the clouds, the two are given the task to care for the cubs (who are orphans) as well as the typical “help those in need” tasks. Darkheart causes chaos below on Earth to capture the Care Bears, so to protect the children, True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse divide and separate them—the Care Bears are taken to Car-A-Lot, and the Cousins are deposited in the Forest of Feelings.

Sauder spends a bit of time working the history of the characters here, which I actually admire. I was surprised to see him describe how the originals and Cousins got separated; and while there’s a couple of huge, temporal mistakes in trying to piece the first movie with the second one, it’s still an ambitious task that’s managed as well as I suppose it could have been.

Which is a problem, because once you enter the road of background information, you’re only opening up a huge Pandora’s Box of questions: where originally did the Care Bears come from? Where were they going when they were on the boat? Who abandoned the Bears originally? What did True Heart and Noble Heart do that was so special to deserve high-apple-pie-in-the-sky status? How long does it take them to grow?! (Although– I do have a theory of how to make this work: time in the Kingdom of Caring moves MUCH faster than on Earth.) Of course, I’m exaggerating. I don’t have any major investment on the details. But it would have been really exquisite if Sauders managed to not only weave a seamless backstory here, but also leave some perfect wiggle room to fit the events from the first one into this one.

Mainly because that’s really the only interesting part of this movie. A New Generation reaps rewards in the Care Bear history but misses completely on an interesting main plot. I suppose it starts off okay—Christy sells her soul to Darkheart to become the Camp Champ, only to have to help the evil force capture the Bears later in the film. But this idea is never taken anywhere, even in the simplest, pre-school terms. For a good twenty minutes, Darkheart doesn’t even bother to exploit Christy’s tête-à-tête, but just opts to chase them around, like an inept dogcatcher.

Beyond that, the story jumps all over the place. Tender Heart and Noble Heart chase Darkheart for what seems like ages; when they realize it’s just its shadow, they return in twenty seconds. The Bears are supposedly disappearing—but they’re not. And then, they are, all at the same moment when Christy pretends to be stuck in a canoe (the scene here is really fucking designed like crap—it’s a visual, confusing mess). Christy saves Darkheart, a flying, transforming force of hatred and evil, after he knocks himself out on the boat like a moronic klutz. The final fight between the Bears/Cousins and Darkheart is lame, with red lighting bolts missing everything, and the mundane power of the stares/calls just being a nuisance. And seeing Darkheart show sympathy for Christy at the end, you know, since she saved his life, coupled with the “We Care” chant at the end (in which the viewer is supposed to participate), just puts the final cap on the most inane, boring story ever, even at children standards. There’s no sense of travel or adventure here, which leaves any sense of exploration or discovery; any chance of the older crowd finding any avenue to enjoy this flick is fairly insignificant.

(An aside: there is a juicy bit that implies Christy’s desire to become a Camp Champ was not for a selfish caving to win, but to indirectly protect John and Don, two random, “master race” twins. But with a lack of a defined relation between Christy and John and Don, and with the most frustrating and constant repetition of plot points this side of Heroes, it’s never taken anywhere interesting. Which is too bad.)

BUT.

The final five minutes of A New Generation is gloriously beautiful. The song I sought for so long is here, and it’s as heart-wrenching as I remember it, but made doubly-so with an soft, evening-mood atmosphere coupled with a montage of the Care Bears enjoying their simple, un-requited childhood, before being pushed into their roles of saving the world of love. Even these cute, cuddly creatures of caring can’t return to the times of pure innocence, and if any moment in film represented the overall feeling I had while doing this “Childhood Revisited” feature, this moment is it:

IN A NUTSHELL: Overall, this movie is just a waist, save for the beginning and the end. Hell, I’d say this entire movie was made for that final song sequence alone. When a movie makes you feel the pain of the freaking Care Bears growing up, something was done right.

While I won’t be reviewing CB3, I’ll probably watch it on my own on the side—it looks like it’s more of a generic adventure than something with ultra-love-caring pushed upon the audience.

November 9nd: The Secret of NIMH
November 16th: Home Alone

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  1. #1 by Jon on November 4, 2009 - 2:05 am

    This is actually my favorite blog post ever in the history of the internet. See, for me “Somewhere Out There” sung by Linda Ronstadt or “A Whole New World” from Aladdin were the definitive story-songs of my childhood.

    Thanks for reviewing the Care Bears II. Good luck on getting to the third movie.

  2. #2 by kjohnson1585 on November 4, 2009 - 11:53 am

    Jon

    “Somewhere Out There” is a good song but is ruined by the actual singing of the mice/children in the actual movie “American Tail”.

    “A Whole New World” does indeed kick ass, though.

  3. #3 by Jon on November 7, 2009 - 1:04 pm

    Haha–I even liked the soft-rock version of “Whole New World.”

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