Danish animation "The Great Bear" reps a winsome debut from helmer Esben Toft Jacobsen and production company Copenhagen Bombay.

As cuddly as a plush toy, but with just enough darkness to broaden its age range up to tweens, Danish animation “The Great Bear” reps a winsome debut from helmer Esben Toft Jacobsen and production company Copenhagen Bombay. Story of two siblings who befriend a giant ursine creature deploys CG techniques yet looks pleasantly cartoony and old-fashioned. After two weeks in release locally, the pic has cumed a strong but less-than-fierce $309,000, but could still show furry legs in neighboring territories.

On a visit to their grandpa (voiced by Elith Nykjaer) in the country, 12-year-old Jonathan (Markus Rygaard) and his 6-year-old sister Sophie (Alberte Blichfeldt) enter the forbidden forest beyond the backyard, where Sophie is abducted by a bear as massive as a mountain, who has trees growing out of his back for camouflage. A crazed hunter (Flemming Quist Moller) enlists Jonathan’s help to slay the beast, but Jonathan switches sides when he realizes what a sweetheart the bear is. Eco all-creatures-are-sacred message is duly preached, but without a heavy hand, and there’s a refreshingly surreal Hayao Miyazaki-quality about the pic’s more whimsical flights of fancy. Tech credits are aces.

The Great Bear

Animated - Denmark

Production

A Nordisk release of a Copenhagen Bombay production in association with Film i Vast, Danmarks Radio, Nordisk Film & TV Fund in association with the Danish Film Institute. (International sales: Copenhagen Bombay, Copenhagen.) Produced by Petter Lindblad. Executive producer, Sarita Christensen. Directed by Esben Toft Jacobsen. Screenplay, Jannik Tai Mosholt, Jacobsen.

Crew

(Color). Editor, Jacobsen, Elin Projts, Marion Tuor; music, Nicklas Schmidt; layout, Thomas Pulsen; background, Andreas Normand Grontved; character designers, Grontved, Jimmi Levinsky, Niels Bach, Jacobsen; animators, Grontved, Brian Leif Hansen, Rasmus Nyhus, Sten Platz, Stine Sorensen, Torben Sottrup Christensen. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation Kplus), Feb. 16, 2011. Running time: 73 MIN.

With

Markus Rygaard, Alberte Blichfeldt, Elith Nykjaer, Flemming Quist Moller.

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