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.