There was once a joke book called Scandinavian Humor and Other Myths, a title brought to mind by THE POLAR BEAR KING, a dour fairy tale from Norway that premiered in the US as an English-dubbed home-video release in 1994, with a moniker conveniently similar to Disney's animated THE LION
Actually, this live-action feature, based on folklore, carries feeble echoes of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in its account of handsome King Valemon (Tobias Hoesl), cursed by a witch (Anna-Lotto Larsson) to turn into a polar bear for seven years, becoming a man only at midnight. The good but
none-too-bright Princess of Winterland (Maria Bonnevie) senses goodness inside the fearsome animal. She not only marries the bear, she bears the bear two children (who promptly disappear, for obscure reasons). There's a catch: the Princess is forbidden to see her husband's manly face during their
midnight conjugal visits. Just before the seven years are up, she gives into temptation and peeps. Now Valemon must marry the witch after all.
The moribund story perks up when the Princess finally grows assertive and sallies forth to the witch's castle, discarding her finery to become a lowly servant. That gives her the opportunity to poison the drinks at the wedding banquet, wiping out the witch and all her associates. Everyone lives
happily ever after, assuming that the Princess never has to take an intelligence test.
You know THE POLAR BEAR KING is in trouble when the most genial person on screen is the Devil (Helge Jordal), materializing as a foppish nobleman for the witch's celebration. At least he smiles and laughs. Other cast members plod glumly through their parts, abetted by ornate costumes and basic
special effects. Jim Henson's Creature Shop constructed the polar bear animatron, which decidedly lacks the realism of their similar creations used in THE BEAR. That wouldn't matter if THE POLAR BEAR KING had the hearty characterizations or the good-natured humor of any "Muppet Show" episode; as
it is, this bear tale barely rates notice.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: There was once a joke book called Scandinavian Humor and Other Myths, a title brought to mind by THE POLAR BEAR KING, a dour fairy tale from Norway that premiered in the US as an English-dubbed home-video release in 1994, with a moniker conveniently simila… (more)