The Disney Parks have provided great entertainment for millions of people over the years. I am not sure the same can be said for the movie adaptions of their attractions. Not all of them are bad but either they ignore villains the attraction already has or the villains are just dumb. Today’s villain falls into the latter category. Many people seem to forget The Country Bears was the first attraction-based movie released to theaters. The first movie adapted from an attraction though was a TV Movie and I will cover that later in this series.
Country Bear Jamboree is such an interesting choice to be the first movie based on an attraction. Sure, people love the characters and the show as it is a seat filler.
But I don’t think there was truly enough material for a movie. I’m not saying an adaption can’t work. The Marvel line, Disney Kingdoms did a comic adaption of the Enchanted Tiki Room and like Country Bears, that doesn’t have the biggest material to work with. So, they made it an anthology comic.
Something like that could work for the Bears or perhaps why not make it an animated series consisting of 2 eleven-minute shorts and you could do something like the old Josie and the Pussycats cartoon where the Bears are traveling from one gig to the next. I do think that would have been better if what the movie presents was a generic get the band back together with a story. I think that’s an issue for two reasons, the Bears come across as unlikeable and seems like some of them can’t stand one another in this movie. I have to imagine that this could have left a bad taste in the mouths of fans of the original attraction. What’s so interesting is the 2011 Muppets film has the same plot as this movie down to a fan bringing the groups back together but there’s one key difference, the Muppets never stopped loving each other after they broke up.
Kermit never stopped caring about his friends and oh sure, this movie tries to convince the Bears still care about one another but it doesn’t come through as it should. There’s another issue I feel with using the “let’s get the band back together” trope for this movie. Theme Park fans know the Bears and most love the Bears but compared to an attraction like The Haunted Mansion, I don’t think they had the same cultural relevance. Continuing with my Mansion comparison, that ride itself has a large fanbase. There’s a documentary about the Haunted Mansion fans, I don’t think people are as ecstatic about the Bears in that way. I’ll touch on this in the next entry but people nerd out about the Mansion and the Bears are loveable but they aren’t on that level. This itself raises a larger problem, for people unfamiliar with the Bears, breaking them up is an odd choice as it’s not the best way to get to know them. I don’t know if this needed o be an origin story for the Bears but the 2011 Muppets film was able to get away with this because they are a cultural cornerstone. The Country Bear Jamboree is a nice show that’s fun and yeah does have some memorable moments but it’s not on that level.
I know I said an origin story may not be needed but considering how integral music is to this attraction, I think a music biopic parody could work. Show the rise, fall, and eventual coming back together of the Bears. There are ideas of this with a Behind The Music type show talking about the Bears at the beginning of the movie but why not make that movie. Yes, it’d be cliche and they’d probably make the manager the villain but it’s no more cliche than the villain we have in the actual movie. Speaking of, that is what I am here to look at today and the over next few weeks I’ll look at the various villains from movies adapted from the attractions saved for the Pirates franchise as they have enough villains for their own series. With this rather long introduction out of the way, let’s begin.
Christopher Walken is anything but a bad actor. Sure, in recent years he’s become some of a meme online and this movie has provided part of that.
Walken can play fun and good roles. Just take a look at this list. But even if we want to look at iconic villains he’s played, there’s Max Shreck in Batman Returns that has all the Walken-isms people expect but he can still be threatening and scary. This isn’t the worst villain Walken has ever played in my opinion, see Peter Pan Live! It’s just that this isn’t a great character that is memorable but not for being a good villain.
This is a larger issue with these attraction adaptions. When I tweeted out about the villains from theme park movie villains, I said most of them suck. My friend Brittany quote tweeted that saying Terrance Stamp in Haunted Mansion and Jesse Plemons in Jungle Crusie were trying but didn’t have enough material to work with. I think that is also true of Walken in this movie as well. I feel as though the director just told Walen to be goofy and silly. A comedic villain isn’t bad. Look at Yzma.
But Eartha Kitt still made Yzma feel like a threat while being funny. Whereas Walken as Reed Thimple is a joke character that honestly crosses the line into stupidity especially when it’s revealed why he hates The Bears.
We first see Rip at Country Bear Hall telling Henry that he needs 20,000 dollars to raise to save Bear Hall. Yeah, Henry is six years behind on the money. Honestly, the first appearance of a villain should give you an idea of what they’re like but this moment is rather so bland and just feels generic. There’s nothing memorable in this moment.
I feel like Reed has less of a personality for the character and is rather just another Walken character. He’s maniacal and full of hatred for The Bears. I’m not saying that hatred for a person(s) can’t work as that is what drives the big two antagonists of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure in their respective seasons but another problem is that Reed is just a joke character with nothing to make him feel like the main characters should be worried about him winning. A recent Disney villain that’s both a goofball and a threat is King Andrias from Amphibia.
He has both moments of making the audience while also reminding them that he is a threat our heroes must take seriously if they wish to have a chance of taking him down. Reed is not any of those, he could be excised from the movie and the story wouldn’t change that much if at all.
He’s driven by revenge as he wants revenge against the bears and oh my word, this is so stupid. Years before the movie, the Bears beat him in a talent contest. So what’s his talent? He was an armpit musician.
This crosses a line from silly to stupid. I know, I know that not all villains are meant to be taken seriously an armpit musician wanting revenge against a band that beat him in a talent contest is so dumb. Recall how I brought up The Muppets (2011) in the introduction, that villain Tex Richman also wants revenge against The Muppets and his motivation is a bit silly but it fits with the theme of the movie and theme of The Muppets.
Tex Richman sings about how The Muppets performed at his birthday party and everyone around him laughed but he couldn’t laugh and he blames The Muppets for his inability to laugh. That ties into The Muppets as the Muppets want to bring joy and happiness to everyone and Tex Richman is one person that couldn’t experience that.
It works more than an armpit musician losing a talent contest. I still can’t believe that is something I had to type.
Most Evil Deed
I don’t feel like I should even be covering this considering how Reed is such a non-factor in the movie. I guess one could argue him kidnapping The Bears counts but again, it never feels like a real treat when they’re captured. But it feels more like checking off an item of what villains are supposed to do.
He loses when fans show up at Bear Hall and the money is raised to save it. This leads to this memeable moment
I think that’s one of the only things people remember from this movie and for good reason, it’s such an over-the-top line and Walken’s bizarre delivery helps to make it memorable. Something I find interesting is the idea of how fans help the Bears. This speaks to something that bugged me throughout the entire movie. So many of the cameos in the movie just played up the idea of them all being fans of the Bears. I get it but after a while, it starts to get old.
Is Reed Thimple A Good Villain?
He’s dumb and not funny. He could’ve been memorable for the right reasons instead of just being a meme. That’s all he is. There’s nothing to him that makes him come across as a true threat and as I said, he could be excised from the movie, and nothing would be lost. There’s nothing memorable or interesting about him as it stands other than being played by Walken. But having the actor who played the villain is the only thing that makes the character memorable is not enough.
Join me next time as we head to The Haunted Mansion and look at the character of…