A refreshingly nasty take on Thanksgiving from an unlikely source. The Berenstain Bears, best known for the sensible and long suffering Mama Bear who is saddled with a clumsy and clueless Papa Bear and a pair of cubs who don’t have any personality beyond their clothing, the books frequently beat the reader over the head with some lesson about positive values like honesty, manners and eating healthy. This time it’s the importance of being thankful and sharing your bounty, but with a bit of a twist. Like some lame horror movie attempting to cash in on a holiday, there’s a monster coming to destroy all of Bear Country this Thanksgiving to fulfill a prophecy!
Those of us watching these shows with impressionable children will no doubt be aghast at Mama Bear’s use of witchcraft to try and divine the future. Reading the drippings of a honeycomb, she deduces that Bigpaw is coming because of everyone in Bear Country is so selfish. But what does Mama Bear really care since she’s already going to hell due to her devotion to the occult?
But what about the children? Don’t worry about them, they’re just headed into Sinister Bog to visit the Mixed Nuts tree to get some for Papa Bear. But that’s directly in the path of the rampaging Bigpaw! And his rampaging almost gets them killed when he accidentally shakes them out of a tree! But he saves them. And he saves them again later when the angry mob of townspeople (no doubt egged on by Mama Bear’s superstitious nonsense) storm the mountain he’s resting on.
The idea that you should be generous only to avoid some monster killing you isn’t the sort of concept that’s going to appeal to most. And despite her major role in stirring everyone into a frenzy and almost causing the deaths of her own children, most of the townspeople and Bigpaw, Mama Bear is never held to account for her despicable actions. Adding to the horror of it all is that everyone speaks in rhyme in addition to the couple of cringeworthy songs thrown in (including one where Mama Bear disingenuously implores the townspeople not jump to conclusions about Bigpaw) to somehow pad out a 24 minute cartoon. A sublimely unpleasant holiday experience suitable only for mindlessly devoted pagans!
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