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Thursday, January 07, 2010


No, you have not gone insane: that is indeed Christopher Walken engaged in conversation with a big-assed bear.

If you know me at all, you know that I'm willing to sit through just about anything in pursuit of "the worst movie ever made" and as of the other night I know I'm getting closer to finding that singular dubious monument in cinema history, for I have now seen THE COUNTRY BEARS and at long last I know how some of the protagonists of H.P. Lovecraft stories feel after they've glimpsed something that man just was not meant to see and consequently tumbled headlong into a state of gibbering madness.

Apparently taking place in a world where anthropomorphic ursines are commonplace, THE COUNTRY BEARS — which is based on a Disney theme park ride, a la THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and THE HAUNTED MANSION features films, but this was the first — tells the story of "Beary" (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), a bear cub adopted by a human family, who , spurred by the taunts of his adoptive brother, has just realized that he is "different" and sets out to discover his roots. Beary's also an accomplished guitarist with a fascination for the Country Bears, a country/rock combo who were once wildly popular, hugely successful, and a major force in pop music that disbanded long ago, so he travels to the rustic barn where they used to play and the story turns into one of those "getting the band back together" narratives. The true goal of getting the Country Bears back together is so they can play a show that will raise enough money to save their old concert venue from the machinations of evil developer Reed Thimple (Christopher "'Cause I'm A 'Ho" Walken) who has held a thirty-year grudge against the rockin' bruins, so it's just a matter of time until they get their shit together or the concert hall is closed and bulldozed over.

Essentially this is a kid's movie (well, duh) that's replete with actors in very good bear suits, but what served to make me interested in it was the incongruous concept of actually seeing a straight-faced Christopher Walken acting/chewing the scenery in the midst of a pack of talking redneck bears. Seriously, think about that for a moment: Christopher fucking Walken, emoting like a goddamned lunatic while surrounded by bipedal talking bears with names like Fred Bedderhead and Tennessee O'Neal. This is a man who has deservedly earned a huge cult following for several excellent and intense performances — THE DOGS OF WAR, KING OF NEW YORK, the list goes on and on — but when he turns his talents to comedy or kid's films, he can be downright hallucinogenic in his impact; for proof of this statement, look no further than his role as the title character in PUSS IN BOOTS, done in his signature style and sans cat suit. Sheer balls on a stick, and he was fantastic in it!

The awesome/completely batshit loony Christopher Walken as the title character in PUSS IN BOOTS (1988). God, I love this guy!

And as proof from THE COUNTRY BEARS, let it suffice to say that you simply have not lived until you witness Christopher Walken performing "The 1812 Overture" via armpit farts —yes, you read that right — for a captive audience of anthropomorphic bears.

Walken lets it rip.

All of which beggars a very simple question: exactly who the fuck thought this movie would be a good idea to make, and who the hell did they think was clamoring to see it? Was it created knowingly to be an outright turd that would serve as a quickly forgotten tax write-off? And how can anyone possibly explain the onscreen and apparently willing participation of Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Alex Rocco, John Hiatt, Willie Nelson (!!!), Don Was, Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean and Brian Setzer? Brian Setzer is one of the best guitarists in rock history (in spite of the Stray Cats and their emblandening of rockabilly for an '80's mentality) and do not get me started on Willie Nelson, so how is this possible? I cannot even begin to give you an answer, but I am simultaneously awed by what I bore witness to and also utterly unable to properly compute much of what I saw in the film. No lie, I called three of my dearest friends — Jim Browski, Greaseball Johnny and G-Man — while I watched THE COUNTRY BEARS in actual slack-jawed disbelief, simply so I could describe its contents and lament the fact that none of them were there to share it with me. And I'm sure that things got weird for my pals during those calls because somewhere around halfway through the film I felt the edges of my mouth slowly curl upward into a skull-like rictus that could sort of be described as a smile, after which I literally began to nervously and uncontrollably giggle to myself, just as though I'd been hit with a dose of Joker Venom.

In summation, THE COUNTRY BEARS is an extinction-level bad movie that must be seen to be believed, hopefully in a room packed with an assortment of equally drunken friends. It's bad, bad, bad, but I was riveted to its every moment and image and I'm genuinely delighted that I chose to spend eight-nine cents on a used DVD of it from Amazon Marketplace (the shipping was around two bucks, so it cost me less than three dollars total). Now please excuse me me while I curl up in the corner of my comfy padded cell and draw pretty butterflies with a purple crayon clenched firmly between my toes.

1 comment:

Laser Rocket Arm said...

Actually the Country Bears isn't even a ride--it's a show called the Country Bears Jamboree. When you're tramping through the Mouse Hole in Florida and it just gets too damn hot you go see the Bears because it's air-conditioned. It's a cute show if very hokey.

Oh--and was there a bear called Big Al? Because if there was no Big Al it's not the damn Country Bears.