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The Care Bears Adventure In Wonderland
The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland
Director: Raymond Jafelice
Writers: Susan Snooks, John de Klein, Heather MacGillvray, Lewis Carroll
Voice Cast: Bob Dermer, Eva Almos, Dan Hennessey, Jim Henshaw, Marla Lukofsky, Luba Goy, Keith Knight, Tracey Moore, Colin Fox, John Stocker, Don McManus, Elizabeth Hanna, Alan Fawcett, Keith Hampshire, Alyson Court
Synopsis: The Care Bears and Alice set out to stop an evil wizard from taking over Wonderland.
MPAA Rating: G
Note: In light of the "Care Bears" getting rebooted in an all new TV series on the HUB channel, I decided to review all three theatrically released "Care Bear" movies, in honor of their return to television.
Alice in Wonderland meets the "Care Bears"...this should be interesting....
Like the first film, I honestly have no recollection of ever seeing this movie, when I was a child. Heck, I wasn't even made aware of it's existence, until the popular internet celebrity, "The Nostalgia Critic" reviewed it. However, in honor of the "Care Bears" returning to TV with a new show on the HUB, I figured I'd honor it in some way by reviewing each theatrically released film that's ever been made.
Unlike the last film, this isn't any kind of origin story, but it is a tale that involves the Care Bears venturing off into Wonderland. Yes, the very same Wonderland that was featured in the popular book, "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. However, unlike the story that I'm sure most readers are familiar with, "The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland" tends to take a lot of liberties with the original story, but we'll get to that momentarily.
The film starts off with a happy feel good song like all the other films, where all our little Care Bears and Care-Cousins are living out just another day in "Care-A-Lot." But when Grumpy Bear gets a visit from the white rabbit, from the Wonderland, things start to get interesting. Not only do we learn that the Care Bear Cousin, Swift Heart Rabbit, is the White Rabbit's niece...big shock, but he comes to the Care Bears seeking help because the Princess is missing.
Instead of looking for the Princess in Wonderland, it seems our heroes rush off all over planet Earth to find her. As it would seem, everyone on Earth is fully aware of the Care Bears' existence, as none of the humans bat an eye, when the Care Bears and Care-Cousins ask them if they seen the girl. However, they inevitably find a young girl named Alice, who looks exactly like the fair Princess herself. Therefore, the Care Bears ask her to pretend to be the Princess temporarily until the real one is found.
Reluctant at first, Alice inevitably agrees; thus the story begins. For those pondering why Alice has to pretend to be the Princess, it's because the Queen of Hearts is going to retire from ruling Wonderland; hence she needs someone to hand over her crown to, or she'll have to hand it over to the evil Wizard because of the laws. Even though, they never fully explain why the hell the Queen of Hearts needs to step down, nor is it ever explained why she simply can't stay Queen until the Princess is found. Hell, they never even explain why the Wizard would be the one to inherit the throne if the Queen can't hand the throne to her daughter.
But for plot convenience, this is the story that "The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland" expects us to buy into, so it's probably best to go along with it; even if it makes no freaking sense...
Also, the filmmakers behind this movie changed the Queen of Hearts from an evil tyrant that most people might be familiar with, into more of an elderly girl with a heart of gold. For the sake of making "Alice and Wonderland" more kid friendly for the Care Bears' audience, we get a Queen of Hearts that's virtually a saint. Although die hard fans of the books might be upset by this change, this is just the route that the filmmakers chose to roll with in this sequel. Granted, this wouldn't be the first film to ever take liberties from a book, but the more important question is...do these changes work to make a better story? Well, lets find out.
To make matters more interesting, the Queen, the white rabbit and everyone in Wonderland know that the evil Wizard was the one to kidnap the Princess. In fact, the Queen even admits that she knows about the Evil Wizard's scheme, when she pleas with Alice to go along with the role of pretending to be the Princess, so she wouldn't have to hand her crown to him.
However, she has no proof, so by the laws of Wonderland, she has to give up her crown to the Evil Wizard if Alice is discovered to be a fake, and the real Princess isn't found. As for the reason why the evil Wizard wants to rule Wonderland, he claims it's too topsy turvy, and claims that it needs rules to keep it in line. Although...if there's no rules and laws, then why the hell does the Queen need to give up her throne again? Oh well, I digress.
To be honest, this movie has more plot holes in it than arguably any of the other Care Bears films. Granted, the prequels had their share of problems in terms of character development, and plot holes. However, they made up for it with a colorful atmosphere, and memorable characters that at least made the audience feel like they were watching a movie. Sadly, "The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland" feels more like a badly written TV special, or three part episode, than a full length movie. None of the characters are particularly memorable, and the animation isn't as colorful and unique as the previous films. Sure, there's the occasional unique images of some of the characters in Wonderland, but it's very rare; while playing it safe and conservative.
As for the villain, Evil Wizard comes off as just another run of the mill cartoon bad guy, who's only quest in life is power. Gee, I wonder how many cartoons that we've seen with characters like that....
Another point worth making were Alice's problems, in the movie, seem kind of lame in comparison to the problems that the other kids had to face in the prequels. In the first film, we had kids that were essentially orphans, who thought nobody cared about them. And in the second film, we had a girl dealing with peer pressure, while portraying an interesting antagonist that was surprisingly complex for a "Care Bears" movie.
Meanwhile in this particular film, we see a girl that's dealing with the concept that she feels that she's not special. Don't get me wrong, I know that all kids need to feel loved and important in some way or another, but in comparison to the other problems I just mentioned, this one just kind of seems lame. Sure, it would've made a great TV episode, but not for a feature length film.
Having said all that, I do like the fact that the filmmakers for this movie tried to do something more original with the story, than the last film did; hence I'll give it props for that. Unfortunately, this film falls a bit flat on execution, which is a real shame to say the least.
In the end, I honestly wouldn't recommend this movie unless you happen to be a die hard "Care Bears" fan. However, that's not to say that there's anything bad in it for kids, as I'm sure they'll love it anyway, but I'd probably recommend the other two films over this one at a rating of one and a half out four.