April 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

Review: Disney's 'Bears' is an adorable documentary

'Bears' follows a mama bear and her two cubs over a year in the Alaskan wilderness. John C. Reilly is the narrator. (DisneyNature)

Take a group of hardened criminals, sit them down and show them “Bears,” and count the number of times they say, “awww.”

It would be impossible not to say it. “Bears” is an adorable, splendidly shot documentary following a mama bear and her two cubs over the course of one year in the Alaskan wilderness.

Along the way, they encounter troubles in the forms of avalanches, wolves, scarcity of food and other bears. But this is a Disney documentary, and things never stray far from the warm and fuzzy. Nature can be tough, but “Bears” is a big ol’ hug.

Narrator John C. Reilly only adds to the cuddliness, pushing the story along while adding commentary and occasionally giving voice to the subjects on screen.

“Hi, little guys!” he says in the voice of Sky, as she lays her eyes on her young ones, Scout and Amber.

Later, over footage of a large bear unsuccessfully attempting to court a female, Reilly offers, “Look! He’s got no game!”

Directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, the team behind 2011’s “African Cats,” tell a streamlined story and keep things moving along. The photography is crisp and inviting, and the score is playful enough to keep kids entertained.

There are grittier nature documentaries out there, but “Bears” is simple and effective, and delivered with that friendly Disney touch. Its intent is to make you say, “awww,” and it does its job well.



Rated G

Running time: 86 minutes