“Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you’ll find.” This quote from Planet of the Apes kept going through my mind as I watched Ted E. Bear’s desperate search for Christmas.
In the Apes movie, Dr. Zauis tries to warn Taylor off of seeking to find the answer as to how a planet came to be where apes evolved from men, knowing that the truth will shatter Taylor. The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas fares even worse because Ted’s entire life is destroyed, yet he not only fails to realize it, he willingly embraces it!
Ted is a drone working at the Organic Honey Works in Bear City. It’s a place that becomes quite annoying in short order what with it having to substitute the word “bear” into everything. For instance, the local airline is Bear Air while the newscast is Bearwitness News. And in this bear-centric reality, the very idea of Christmas is scoffed at, even scientifically debunked by Werner Von Bear’s research.
Ted, perhaps displaying some sort of mental disorder, is obsessed with finding Christmas. No explanation is offered as to why he has latched onto this idea even in the face of public ridicule. While all of Bear City is prepping for hibernation, Tom is determined to stay awake long enough to check out this Christmas thing.
But does rejecting society’s norms necessarily mean you need the intervention of a medical professional? Should you be severely medicated or placed into a secure facility simply because you reject the mainstream narrative regarding Christmas? What if your wacky belief system negatively impacts your relationships both personally and professionally? Luckily, for Ted, Bear City’s mental health system is just an advanced combination of being dismissive and outright mocking.
Ted causes a serious workplace accident (honey flood dude!) while arguing with co-workers about Christmas. His boss tells him that if he yammers one more time about Christmas, he’s fired! So what does Ted do? Right after work, he gives an interview to Bearwitness News about how he’s going to look for Christmas!
But the resulting termination of his employment is just the beginning because when it’s time for all the bears to take flights out to hibernate in various locales, he lets the pretty Patti Bear, who is sweet on him, walk out of his life forever! All so he can cozy up to some fat dude in a red suit! You have a damn college degree, bruh! Come on!
Ted’s journey into the Christmas Forbidden Zone goes about how you would expect. Encountering a large city full of humans, he is overwhelmed and ends up locked in a department store with a bunch of loser toys who didn’t get bought for Christmas.
Once he escapes the department store, he runs into Santa who explains to Ted that Christmas isn’t a place or thing or time. It’s a feeling you got right there in your cute little bear heart! And then, perplexingly, Santa proceeds to give Ted the exact address where he can find Christmas!
I had the same feeling when this happened as near the end of Planet of the Apes when Taylor and Nova set out on horseback to find their own answers. Full of dread, I was telling Ted, don’t do it! Turn around, go back to Bear City and live a happy life with Patti Bear and forget all this Christmas nonsense!
But just as with Man, a bear cannot turn away from his destiny, no matter what it holds. So he ends up as some kid’s Christmas present. Had there been a montage of scenes with his former life, including his job, co-workers, Bear City, and Patti Bear as he slowly realizes what he has given up for his snug life as a kid’s teddy bear, this would have a heart-wrenching classic about what you have to leave behind for that one thing you think you want. Instead, it ends with Ted laying in his own little bed next to his new owner, a mindless smile affixed to his furry face, his former life and friends forever forgotten.
More unsettling than any Christmas ghost story, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas will leave you desperately seeking out old standards like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas to chase away the holiday blues Ted and the life he so callously abandoned inflicted on you.
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