The Care Bears Movie

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The Care Bears Movie

Original theatrical poster
Directed by Arna Selznick
Produced by Michael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Clive A. Smith
Lenora Hume
Paul Pressler
John Bohach
Harvey Levin
Carole MacGillvray
Robert Unkel
Jack Chojnacki
Lou Gioia
Written by Peter Sauder (screenplay)
Starring See below
Music by Patricia Cullen
Cinematography David Altman
Jim Christianson
Barbara Sachs (animation camera)
Editing by Jim Erickson
Tom Joerin
Gordon Kidd
Stephen Mitchell
Sheila Murray
Steve Weslak
Michael O'Farrell
John Broughton
Rob Kirkpatrick
Studio Nelvana Limited
Distributed by United States The Samuel Goldwyn Company (theatrical);
Vestron Video (VHS/Beta, 1985);
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (current)
Canada Astral Films
United Kingdom Miracle Films (theatrical);
Vestron Video (VHS/Laserdisc)
France Artédis
Australia Seven Keys
Release date(s) Canada March 23, 1985[1]
United States March 24, 1985 (Washington, D.C.);[2]
March 29, 1985 (national)
Running time 76 min.
Country  Canada
Language English
Budget $2,000,000-$4,000,000
Followed by Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (1986)

The Care Bears Movie is a 1985 animated feature film. It was the first film to feature the Care Bears toy characters, and one of the first to be based directly on a toy line. The movie was produced in Canada by Nelvana Limited at the height of the first wave of the Care Bears phenomenon, and also produced a spin-off television series and two sequels. It was released in theatres in March 1985 by The Samuel Goldwyn Company.

The movie, released six months prior to DIC's Care Bears TV series had a considerable amount of star power attached to it: Carole King wrote and sung the opening theme, while John Sebastian and NRBQ contributed to the song score. Mickey Rooney and Georgia Engel starred as voices, along with the Canadian talents of Billie Mae Richards, Marla Lukofsky, Luba Goy and a young Cree Summer, among others. It also marked the first ever appearance of the Care Bear Cousins in the media franchise (as stated in its opening credits), and introduced a few new Bears to the original line-up of ten.

Amid its purpose as a feature-length commercial for the eponymous characters, and varying degrees of critical success, The Care Bears Movie grossed almost $23 million at the American box-office, outdrawing even Disney's The Black Cauldron (although this film was released much earlier than The Black Cauldron). It was Nelvana's highest-grossing film for another eight years. The profitable success of this project, along with their early work on children's television shows, saved Nelvana from closing down after the poor financial performance of their first film, 1983's Rock & Rule.



The movie starts with a brief introductory segment featuring Mr. and Mrs. Cherrywood, a middle-aged couple who look after many small children at an orphanage named after themselves. After the children ask him, Mr. Cherrywood sits them down to read a bedtime story, and this introduces the audience, along with a song by Carole King, to the Care Bears and their magical home in the clouds called Care-a-lot.

While looking down on the Earth for people to cheer up, the Care Bears notice two children who "don't care", Kim and Jason. The two kind siblings have decided to stop caring for the people around them ever since their parents died, and believe they need no one else but themselves. Two Care Bears, Friend Bear and Secret Bear, travel down to the surface to meet them. They begin to attempt an intervention by introducing themselves, but Kim and Jason do not take notice at first. Then Friend Bear tells them a virtue of friendship, and their ambitions: Kim, a bibliophile, is dreaming of becoming a nurse, and Jason wants to be a jet pilot. The children, however, are not interested in the Bears' idea of caring for others.

Meanwhile, at an amusement park, Tenderheart Bear finds another child in need of help - a lonely boy who has never had a friend in his life: Nicholas, the young apprentice of a world-famous magician named "The Great Fetuccini". While helping to carry a chest for Fetuccini that contains some old antiques, he manages to find an old book with a diary-style lock on it.

Back at Care-a-lot, the Care Bears, inside the Hall of Hearts, are working on their new invention: the Rainbow Rescue Beam, a heart-shaped portal which can send any Bear to Earth and back to the sky instantly. While correcting problems from the invention's first test, Grams Bear calls Grumpy, Share and Birthday Bear over to look for her grandchildren, Baby Hugs and Baby Tugs. When those two come to try making square bubbles with the invention, their mischief brings forth Friend, Secret and the siblings to Care-a-lot instead, much to the Bears' surprise. Soon after the rest of the furry characters introduce a perplexed Kim and Jason, they give the two children a tour around their cloud-filled world. Thanks to them, the children have made brand-new friends without worry. Later, Wish Bear finds them some new parents from an orphanage, who want to have them adopted; but Kim and Jason feel like staying in Care-a-lot and helping the Bears.

At the same time, Nicholas is introduced to the voice of an evil spirit in the form of a diamond-shaped face which lies within the old book that he found. She starts gaining his attention with her voice by luring him into the idea that she is his new "friend". She tells him that, through magic, he can earn more friends by becoming a better magician than his master, and get even with the children all over town. In order to do that, he unlocks the book and unleashes the Spirit. Soon, its face shows up, and tells Nicholas to read some words in the book. His first spell makes Fetuccini fall into a deep sleep. Seeing the situation, Tenderheart convinces Nicholas that friends should not be made this way, but the Spirit does not take heed. She imprisons Tenderheart in a cage in order to get rid of him. However, the latter frees himself a few seconds later. With Nicholas' help, it soon lays waste to the amusement park and, after one of his shows, begins a quest to remove all caring from the world. Immediately, Tenderheart returns to Care-a-lot in the midst of a "Cloud Quake" caused by the Spirit, which destroys his home and causes the Caring Meter to drop two points.

When the quake is over, he informs Kim, Jason and the other Bears of Nicholas' troubles on Earth. Handing them the key from the Spirit's book, he brings them to the Rescue Beam and begins to send them, along with Friend and Secret, back to the park. However, an aftershock from the Cloud Quake causes the portal to malfunction, sending the four of them to a strange new land instead: the Forest of Feelings. There, they are introduced to Brave Heart Lion and Playful Heart Monkey, who are astounded that their human visitors are so different from them.

Because the Rainbow Rescue Beam did not work this time, Grumpy and Good Luck Bear stay in the Hall of Hearts to fix it, amid stormy weather. During the repair, they find Baby Hugs' lollipop to get it working again. Meanwhile, at a nearby river, the rest of the Care Bears have an idea: they begin to search for Kim, Jason, Friend and Secret with the help of a cloud ship, a big smiling star atop its mast. They too end up in the Forest, where they meet the rest of the Care Bear Cousins—Cozy Heart Penguin, Lotsa Heart Elephant, Swift Heart Rabbit and Bright Heart Raccoon among others.

While Kim, Jason, the Care Bears and the Cousins are in the Forest of Feelings, the Spirit begins to attack them in three different forms: At first, the Spirit sents out a spearfish that tries to stop the bears by creating a giant whirlpool, but the Care Bears ultimately escape the situation. Soon after, an evil tree attacks Kim, Jason and the cousins, but they are saved by Swift Heart Rabbit, a cousin with the ability to move at "super-speed". At last, a third entity is sent out to go after the children in the form of an awesome eagle. This time, the Care Bears overpower the opponent with the Care Bears Stare. Warned of its influence, the friends all journey back to the park to try to free Nicholas of the Spirit, and re-imprison it in the magic book. Not long after they do, the boy is collecting all the ingredients for his ultimate spell: getting rid of the Care Bears, the Cousins, and the siblings. Still struggling with himself, he unleashes the last spell.

Soon after Nicholas comes outside with the book, the Bears and Cousins prepare to Stare and Call, with Good Luck and Grumpy later joining them via the Rescue Beam. A long battle ensues, and drains out all of their powers, as they manage to break the Spirit's hold on Nicholas. The Care Bears Stare ultimately works, but the Spirit regains control over Nicholas after a few seconds. All of a sudden, Kim and Jason come along and offer the hand of friendship to Nicholas, vowing that they will make sure he is never left to feel lonely again, and he realizes that their intentions are genuine. At this point, Nicholas sees the Spirit for what she really is and turns against her, and starts closing her face back into the book - but as he fights desperately to force the Spirit's book closed,the Spirit erases the key needed by Jason and Kim to lock the book up from Jason's hand. Secret Bear gives them a brand-new one out of his padlock, and Jason closes it for good, thus saving Nicholas, the park and the world. Nicholas thanks Kim, Jason, the Bears and Cousins for helping see through the Spirit, and walks back towards Mr. Fetuccini's wagon with his arms around Kim and Jason. Some time after the battle is over, Fetuccini wakes from his long slumber and makes Nicholas his official partner; Tenderheart Bear inducts the Care Bear Cousins into the Care Bear Family; and Kim and Jason finally find new parents at one of Nicholas' shows.

After this, a short epilogue with the Cherrywoods is shown. Soon after the story is over, Mrs. Cherrywood reveals the name of her husband —Nicholas— and it is implied that she herself may be Kim. Unknown to both of them and the children at the orphanage, Tenderheart Bear was listening all along from outside a window. When it is over, he rides back to Care-a-lot on his Cloud Car. Immediately after, the Care Bear Family waves its audience good-bye, below the words "The End" written in white on a shiny red heart.


(in order of appearance)


Swift Heart Rabbit staring at the Spirit, incarnated as an evil tree. The scene in which this takes place was the only one that made it into the completed film from the production's promo.

Production of The Care Bears Movie took place at Nelvana's Toronto studio, at the start of a time which one of its founders, Michael Hirsh, refers to as its "dark years".[3] Nelvana had just come out from the production of their first feature, 1983's Rock & Rule, which was produced using almost all of its resources (for $8 million) and failed at the box office. Soon after that film put them on the verge of closing down, Nelvana saved themselves by doing work on television shows like Inspector Gadget (from DiC Entertainment) and Mr. Microchip. During this time, they also began work on their next feature project, at around the same time they acquired the rights to the Care Bears characters. Brought in under budget, the first Care Bears Movie was made in eight months (from June 1984 to February 1985).[3] The actual cost of the film varies by source; according to James B. Stewart's DisneyWar, it was made for $2 million,[4] and Jerry Beck's Animated Movie Guide lists it at $4 million.[5] That money was put up by American Greetings, the owners of the Care Bears franchise; General Mills, the toys' distributor; and LBS Communications, who went on to produce the film's 1986 follow-up, Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, for Columbia Pictures.[6]

The low-cost project started life as a short promo made for American Greetings. When they were pleased with the result, they asked Nelvana about the potential of a feature film stemming from it. After agreeing with AGC, most of the work (as they feared) would eventually end up, amid limited time and money, in the hands of Taiwan's Wang Film Productions and Cuckoo's Nest Studio, along with new studios Hanho Heung-Up and Mihahn in Korea. (These production values contrasted heavily with those of Rock & Rule, where all of the work was done in Canada over a five-year period.) The finished film's only scene from the promo involved Swift Heart Rabbit speeding off to save Kim, Jason and various Care Bear characters from the Spirit, incarnated as an evil tree.[7]

The film's director, Arna Selznick, is the third of only four women ever to direct an animated feature (the others being Lotte Reiniger of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Animal Farm's Joy Batchelor, and Brenda Chapman from The Prince of Egypt).[5] To this day, she is proud of her efforts for working with the crew of this film. "I know it was a huge marketing ploy to sell toys," she has said about its promotional strategy.[8]

After its completion, the Samuel Goldwyn Company, then a newcomer in the independent market, agreed to release the film after it was rejected by all the major studios, who at the time did not see the financial potential in a movie aimed strictly for children. Comparing the title characters' appeal to Hollywood stars like Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, founder Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. remarked: "Having my [two] children, I know these bears are stars, too."[6]


Reaction and criticism

During its original release, The Care Bears Movie had varying degrees of success with critics. The New York Times' Richard Grenier, in the newspaper's review of the film, commented on its recalling of "vintage Walt Disney, both in substance and in the style of hand animation".[9] Britain's Woman Magazine commented on the film, "Enthralling...the animation is enchanting, the music beguiling...the full length animated cartoon of the year." The Philadelphia Inquirer, who called it "a Romper Room of innocent fun", said in its review: "Any movie—even an animated one—that has characters with names such as Funshine Bear, Love-a-Lot Bear and Lotsa Heart Elephant is obviously going to rank quite high on the cute meter. And this one sends the needle right off the chart. You've never seen such cuteness."[10]

However, The Boston Globe's Michael Blowen had nothing to recommend the film: "[it] satisfies the primary obligation of a bedtime story—before it's half over the children will be fast asleep," he began his review.[11] Moreover, some more were aware of its purpose as a feature-length commercial for Care Bears merchandise. As remarked the filmmaking publication Films and Filming: "The purpose of the film is presumably to sell more toys as it unashamedly pushes the message that without at least one Care Bear around life can be very lonely."[12] Several films based on Hasbro's toy products and Hallmark's Rainbow Brite, to mention a few, would follow a similar marketing tactic some time after its debut.

Jack Chojnacki, president of Those Characters from Cleveland, and also one of its four executive producers, offered this vindication soon after it opened:

We consider a film one of the many products we license. When we started the whole Care Bears project we knew the importance of bears in the market but that there was a void. There were no specific bears. In the movie marketplace there was a void for good family-fare films.[6]

Box office

The film was officially released on March 29, 1985 in the United States, although it premiered in Nelvana's native Canada six days prior,[1] and was screened in Washington, D.C. on March 24 as part of a Special Olympics benefit.[2] Despite limited audience appeal,[12] even at a time when there were very few pictures deemed safe for young audiences,[6] it was surprisingly successful at the United States box office, where its first two weekends (both in fourth place) equalled little more than its low cost ($3.7 million and $3.2 million).[13][14] The film spent its first four weeks on 1,003 screens.[15][16] During its three months in release, it grossed $22,934,622 in the United States, and placed 40th among 1985's major films.[17][18][19]

The movie's theatrical success, along with subsequent home video sales numbering over five million copies,[20] virtually saved a floundering Nelvana from going out of business.[21] This eventually led to the Bears having their own television series, produced by DiC in the first season and by Nelvana for the rest of its run. Two sequels, Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (1986) and The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987), also followed in its wake; neither of them made as much of a critical or commercial impact as its predecessor.


For more than two decades, The Care Bears Movie was the highest-grossing animated feature film to come from Canada. (C.O.R.E.'s computer-animated film, The Wild, replaced it in 2006, grossing close to $37.4 million in the United States.[22]) It was also the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of all time upon its original release, until Don Bluth's An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988) took over.[3]

The film is one of the highest-grossing releases of all time in its native Canada, along with the teen comedy Porky's, which officially holds the record. It was Nelvana's most successful venture at the box office until their live-action thriller, Malice, took its place with a $46.4 million gross in late 1993.[23] In addition, it is the highest-grossing release from either incarnation of its distributor, Samuel Goldwyn. (In March 2007, the revival of the company, operating through IDP Distribution, saw its biggest success so far in the historical drama Amazing Grace.)[24][25]

Awards and nominations

At the 1985 Genie Awards in its native Canada, The Care Bears Movie won the Golden Reel Award for being the country's highest-grossing film of the year, at $1.85 million.[26] The recipients of the award were Nelvana's three founders, who were also the film's producers.[27] It received two other nominations, for Best Original Song (by John Sebastian) at the Genies, and for "Best Family Animation Series or Special" at the Young Artist Awards.

Home video and DVD

The Care Bears Movie was first distributed by Vestron Video in the United States and Great Britain on July 10, 1985, in videocassette and Betamax formats.[28][29] Contrary to North American belief, it also appeared on Laserdisc in the United Kingdom.[30] (The Adventure in Wonderland installment from 1987 is the only Care Bears movie ever released on that format in the United States.) Thanks to Video Treasures, it was brought back on video in 1990.[31] Hallmark Home Entertainment published another VHS edition of the film on October 10, 1995. The made-for-TV children's special, Strawberry Shortcake Meets the Berrykins, based on the title American Greetings property, was included in this release.[32]

Then, on September 5, 2000, MGM Home Entertainment re-released the film on video. The DVD premiered on August 6, 2002, and also contained the trailer as a bonus feature. In honour of the Care Bears' 25th anniversary, it was re-issued on March 20, 2007 with restored picture quality, and contained the franchise's second Atkinson Film-Arts special, The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine, as an extra.[33] The DVD releases have been altered slightly from the film's original form. The Samuel Goldwyn Company logo with the "Care-A-Lot" opening fanfare has been replaced with the MGM logo, and the end credits are now on black instead of the original blue.



The soundtrack album to The Care Bears Movie was released in LP and cassette format by Kid Stuff Records in the United States, and on the Cherry Lane imprint of the Towerbell label in the United Kingdom.[34] It featured the film's six songs: "Care-a-lot", "Nobody Cares Like a Bear", "Home is in Your Heart", "When You Care, You're Not Afraid to Try", "Look Out! He's After You!" and "In a Care Bear Family". Five of them were performed by Carole King, John Sebastian, NRBQ and the Tower of Power. In his only role for an animated production, actor Harry Dean Stanton had a guest appearance as Brave Heart Lion for the song "Home is in Your Heart".[35][36] The songs were produced by Lou Adler and John Sebastian, with additional lyrics and music by Ken Stephenson, Walt Woodward and David Bird. The music for the opening theme, "Care-a-lot" by Carole King, was carried over into the score for the Nelvana television series.

Book version

A book based on the film, Meet the Care Bear Cousins (ISBN 0-910313-98-9), was published in North America and Great Britain by Parker Brothers a month after the film's release, and reissued in October that same year by Children's Press (ISBN 0-516-09029-1). As with the Marvel Comics adaptation of Nelvana's earlier Rock & Rule, it contained various stills taken from the real movie.


  1. ^ a b Release dates for The Care Bears Movie at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
  2. ^ a b Miscellaneous (1985, March 17). The Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c "Three men and a bear: Nelvana at 25" by Ellen Besen and Marc Glassman, TAKE ONE, Autumn 1996. Retrieved March 10, 2006.
  4. ^ Stewart, James B. (2005). DisneyWar. ISBN 0-684-80993-1. Simon and Schuster. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  5. ^ a b Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide, p. 48. ISBN 1-55652-591-5. Chicago Reader Press. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d Salamon, Julie (1985, April 16). At the Movies: Care Bears Hit It Big, Onscreen and Off. The Wall Street Journal. Accessed July 2, 2007.
  7. ^ Anyone ever hear of the film 'Rock & Rule' from Nelvana? Message posting at Retrieved March 12, 2006.
  8. ^ Summary of The Care Bears Movie at Retrieved April 7, 2005.
  9. ^ Review of The Care Bears Movie by Richard Grenier, The New York Times, March 23, 1985. Retrieved January 6, 2006. (Registration required to read page.)
  10. ^ Review of The Care Bears Movie (1985, April 1). The Philadelphia Inquirer, p. D03. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
  11. ^ Blowen, Michael (1985, March 29). Care Bear Film Takes Over from Bedtime Bear. The Boston Globe. Accessed July 2, 2007.
  12. ^ a b "Canadian, eh? Take One's unofficial list of 20 box-office hits" by Wyndham Wyse, TAKE ONE, Spring 2000. Retrieved May 23, 2006.
  13. ^ Weekend Box Office Results, March 29-31, 1985. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  14. ^ Weekend Box Office Results, April 5-7, 1985. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  15. ^ Weekend Box Office Results, April 12-14, 1985. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  16. ^ Weekend Box Office Results, April 19-21, 1985. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  17. ^ Box office data for The Care Bears Movie at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 29, 2006.
  18. ^ Yearly Box Office: 1985. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 10, 2006.
  19. ^ A complete box-office analysis can be found at this entry from[dead link]
  20. ^ Lawson, Terry. "Great viewing you can bet on" (2007, March 20). Retrieved March 20, 2007, from