Youngsters and preteens may enjoy this amble through the wilderness, which revolves around a plucky 16-year-old boy befriends a misunderstood bear. But adults tagging along on the family entertainment ride may find this updating of "Androcles and the Lion" too tame for their tastes. Advertising executive Rachel Harding (Michele Greene) and her city-bred son, Josh (Riley Smith), move to remote Pine Lake and don't find the welcoming environment promised by the brochures. The Mayor (John O' Hurley) and a big game hunter named Harlan Adams (Daniel Baldwin) are conspiring together to make the area a government-sanctioned preserve for relocated grizzly bears; they then intend to let the grizzlies loose, eliminate them and collect insurance they can use to finance mall development. Plagued by a toothache, a growling Mama Bear prowls the countryside after the bad guys free her from the compound. Fortunately, Josh's part-time job with the local ranger has transformed him into an animal activist. While trying to save the bear and her cubs, Josh and the ranger's daughter go AWOL, Rachel falls into a mine shaft and the villains try to blow up the bears' lair. Can Josh rescue the bear family before hunters kill the alleged predators?
This family-friendly adventure isn't very exciting but contains just enough close-ups of adorable cubs and gorgeous scenery to keep moppets alert. For the slightly older, outdoorsy set, the movie comes with a Sierra Club stamp of approval. But the dusty trails look awfully familiar, as do the stock characters hiking to the predictable denouement, including the stalwart forest ranger, the caring-but-clueless mother, the rebellious-but-basically-goodhearted teens and the venal developers. The titular bear sometimes looks suspiciously like a guy in a tatty costume, but this action-driven ode to nature conservancy still offers well-intentioned escapism for animal lovers
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: PG
- Review: Youngsters and preteens may enjoy this amble through the wilderness, which revolves around a plucky 16-year-old boy befriends a misunderstood bear. But adults tagging along on the family entertainment ride may find this updating of "Androcles and the Lion"… (more)