Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-Lot (review)

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Oh dear lord, the hearts and the rainbows and the giggling and the hard plastic candy-colored CGI bears singing — someone make it stop! This horrifying attempt at children’s entertainment puts Care Bears, those schmaltzy-sweet cartoon characters designed for nothing beyond moving merchandise to toddlers, in all manner of jeopardy: racing in jet cars, flying through the atmosphere on a carousel that’s broken free of its moorings, taking pratfalls, and stuck on runaway roller coasters. Sure, this is theoretically a fantasy and these Care Bear creatures are seemingly invincible, but then why are they screaming like that? Featuring five original terrifying songs about hurt feelings and cuddly-wuddly friendship, this is ostensibly the tale of Funshine, a Care Bear who apparently aspires to be some sort of vaudevillian and almost makes his dream come true in the land of Joke-a-lot, a sort of Oz-meets-Candyland with just a soupcon of pastel near-oddity Tim Burton might have pondered in a moment of sentimental weakness. The cold CGI animation removes any vestige of coziness that might have been found in what is essentially a giant advertisement for itself. The extras include singalongs and DVD-ROM goodies but no explanation for the bizarre references to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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