This article originally ran on Den of Geek UK.
The last time I watched The Care Bears Movie it terrified me. Having said that, I was about five. Nevertheless, you’ve got to be a pretty wussy kid to be scared of anything to do with the Care Bears.
The Care Bears, if this franchise passed you by, are a group of bears made out of cake or something. They go round claiming to care about everyone, even people who are really show at cashpoints. Since 1985, the Care Bears have starred in numerous movies, including Care Bears II: A New Generation, Care Bears VII: The Wrath Of Khan, and Care Bears LMCIXX: Care Bears At Aldi. There was a TV series too, but the plot of that mostly consisted of a missing birthday cake.
I loved the Care Bears when I was little, and would regularly park myself in front of the TV to watch this movie on video. And it never failed to creep me out. Other things that scared me as a kid included Evil Zippy in the RainbowChristmas show, the Test Card, and my own shadow, so the bar was set pretty low. The point is, does it still scare me now I’m an adult? Let’s see if this 1985 classic is as full of peril as I remember.
Before the opening credits, there’s a prologue involving a man named Mr Cherrywood telling a story to some orphans. Mr Cherrywood will be important later, but he won’t really, so you can forget this bit for now.
We begin properly, as you might imagine, with a song (by Carole King no less) all about how the Care Bears live on a cloud and fix cars, like a more caring version of Wheeler Dealers.
Next we meet our two human protagonists, Kim and Jason. Kim and Jason don’t have parents, so they’ve decided to hate everyone in the world. I like Kim and Jason. I too hate most people, so we have a lot in common.
Kim and Jason’s anti-humanity stance is interrupted by the arrival of Secret Bear and Friend Bear, who want to get up in their business.
The bears decide that they can restore Kim and Jason’s faith in humanity. They overlook the fact that bears aren’t human, and that Kim and Jason probably think they’re hallucinating.
While this is going on we meet Nicholas. Nicholas is a magician’s assistant who doesn’t have any friends and is terribly lonely. Poor Nicholas. He should go on Tinder or something. Again, the Care Bears think all his problems will be solved by the appearance of a brightly coloured bear, so Tenderheart Bear is sent to make friends with him.
This is the first bit of peril: Before Tenderheart can do his thing, Nicholas finds a magic book in a box of junk. The book is a lady, and is a bit evil.
I don’t know the name of the book lady, so I’m going to call her Janet. Janet is good – she knows how to get stuff done. However, it should be noted that I was terrified of Janet when I was little. What an evil genius I’ve grown up to be.
Janet tells Nicholas that he can fix all his problems by using her spells to become a great magician, then he’ll have loads of fans. I suspect these spells are going to turn out to be evil. I suspect this because I’ve seen this movie loads of times. But for now, Janet is promising to help Nicholas.
Meanwhile we come back to Care A Lot, and we learn that the Care Bears have invented a Star Trek style transporter. It’s been broken for ages, but those two stupid baby ones manage to fix it by breaking it. As a result, Secret Bear and Friend Bear are beamed back to Care A Lot, along with Kim and Jason.
There follows another lovely song, in which Kim and Jason learn the meaning of Christmas. So that’s all sorted out now.
Back to Nicholas and Janet. This is why I was terrified of Janet –
Nicholas tries to become a stage magician with Janet’s help, but his act goes wrong and everyone starts laughing at him. I don’t see why Nicholas gets so pissed off about this. He should have just gone with it and done the whole Tommy Cooper thing, then loads of people would have liked him. Maybe he would have done, but Janet decides to stick her oar in, and convinces Nicholas that they’re laughing because they hate him. I have a Janet in my head a lot of the time when I’m trying to write.
Nicholas, with the help of Janet’s lady-magic, makes all the people in the audience immediately hate each other. They start fighting, resulting in hilarious facial expressions.
Soon, most people in the world have ‘stopped caring’, which is shorthand for ‘everyone hates everyone else’, which is longhand for ‘Twitter’. There is a very real possibility that this will bring on the Care Bear apocalypse. Raging storms sweep Care A Lot, random bits of cloud break off, and the ‘Caring Meter’, which tracks the love and general squishiness in the world, has dropped “a whole two points!” I think this means the Conservatives are ahead.
I can never quite get to grips with why, but this means the Care Bears have to go somewhere in a boat. Maybe they have to find the lost feelings, I don’t know. Halfway through their voyage they take a detour and wind up in the ‘Forest of Feelings’, where they meet the guys who will go on to be the Care Bear Cousins in the sequel.
That last paragraph contained spoilers, so if you don’t want spoilers go back and don’t have read it.
This bit is punctuated by yet another musical interlude, and a maypole.
Then they all get attacked by an evil tree, but are saved by a small, blue woodland creature who runs at the speed of light. It’s possible that someone at Sega was a fan of this movie.
The rabbit runs round the tree, confusing it so it gets all its branches tied up in knots. Then the tree just sort of goes away.
The evil tree was arranged by Janet in an attempt to stop the Care Bears. When this doesn’t work, she has another go with an evil bird. The Care Bears defeat the bird with a ‘Care Bear Stare’, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just do a stare at the tree instead of waiting for Sonic the Rabbit to save them.
While all this has been going on, Nicholas and Janet have successfully turned the world into a bleak dystopian wasteland, devoid of love and happiness.
Nicholas is collecting ingredients for his final spell, but takes a few minutes out to try to stop Kim and Jason from… well, from existing. Everyone always says this film is for kids, but they forget the part where a killer magician with bags under his eyes is chasing two kids around an abandoned funfair.
Fun fact: the music in this scene sounds a bit like the Hang Tough music from Gladiators, but maybe I’m just remembering that wrong.
We’re nearing our final battle now. The Care Bears have to somehow get through to Nicholas and convince him that not everyone in the world is a bastard. Unfortunately they’re too late; by the time they get Nicholas’ attention, Janet has the power to complete the spell by herself. They try doing a Care Bear Stare on her, but this fails miserably.
Again, you’re welcome.
Their only chance now is to close the book and lock it, trapping Janet inside. Fortunately, Jason has been keeping the key safe in his pocket for just such an eventuality. However, when he goes near Janet with the key, she eats the key.
Oh No! Peril! What do? Surely everyone is now doomed? But wait! Secret Bear magically produces another key from her stomach, rendering all Jason’s efforts to keep the key safe COMPLETELY POINTLESS.
They key works and Janet is banished back to wherever it is she came from. Nicholas makes friends with Kim and Jason, and they all live happily ever after.
Remember Mr Cherrywood from the beginning? Well, you get absolutely no prizes for guessing that he is future Nicholas. He now runs an orphanage, so he can care about millions of kids and read them stories.
And this is where we say goodbye to the Care Bears, at least until the sequel, which stars an even more badass villain than Janet.
Okay, so I guess it’s not quite as scary as it was when I was five, but it still has plenty of creepy, disturbing moments. Like that bit where there are bears that can talk. No wonder I grew up how I did.