After recording and releasing the second episode of my very own solo podcast on Monday, I decided to watch the first presidential debate for a bit. Okay, I was basically listening to it on my laptop while goofing off on the internet. On my TV, I had some Disney movies playing. It was the only thing that really kept me sane. Whlie I was trying to sleep after the debate, I found myself remembering a plan to write up a list of my favorite bears. I mentioned it on Facebook the following day and discovered that I had to write it. So, here we are. I’ve even decided to rank them. You’ll note that most (all) of these bears are from kid films and TV shows. I regret nothing.
8. Bosco (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”)
There are a lot of fantastic animals in “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” There are Aardvark Sloths, Boar-Q-Pines, Koala Otters, Rabaroos, and so many more. None of these animals was as confusing to the protagonists as Bosco. He was a bear – just a bear. He was the beloved pet and faithful companion of Earth King Kuei. I am not going to go into what Bosco’s fate was after his master passed, but I am going to say that he was avenged in a spectacular and kind of horrifying way. He was a slob and a bit of a jerk, but he was a bear and he was loved.
7. Edgar (Brother Bear)
Part of the plot of Disney’s Brother Bear is getting young cub Koda to the Salmon Run. At the Salmon Run, all of the bears gather for bear activities like swimming, goofing around, and talking about how their year has been. To facilitate the discussion, the bears toss around a headless fish so each bear has a fair turn talking about their year. A bear whose only name is in the credits is “Old Lady Bear” catches the fish and talks about how it was the year that she lost her dear husband, Edgar. Off-screen, a voice calls out, “Quit tellin’ everyone I’m dead!” Old Lady Bear and Edgar’s responses have become something of a meme on Tumblr. I love the crap out of Edgar and wish we’d been able to see him on screen. I do find it interesting that he has a name while his wife does not.
6. Muk and Luk (Balto)
Balto is a movie about a half-dog/half-wolf who has a difficult time proving himself to his community. He has friends, of course, but they’re not dogs or wolves. Instead, he’s buddies with a goose and a pair of polar bear cubs who are terrified of swimming. Voiced by Phil Collins, Muk and Luk are an adorable duo who find their courage and their ability to swim during the events of the film. They got this far on the list through sheer cuteness.
5. Fozzie Bear (The Muppets Franchise)
I’m expecting some controversy over the placement of Fozzie on this list. Look, I love Fozzie. He’s great, he’s lovable, and he’s a fiercely loyal friend and companion. That said, his jokes are terrible. It’s a part of his charm, but I think I’d probably want to throw things at him after a while. Still, I love him and he’s great. So, here he is.
4. Little John (Robin Hood)
Why Little John from Robin Hood and not Baloo from The Jungle Book (both voiced by Phil Harris)? See, I’m more of a pragmatist at heart. Little John gets it. He’s the one keeping Robin safe and fed. When his foxy buddy has a scheme in mind, Little John is right there with back-up. He’s not afraid to throw himself into costume and into character. He’s a great guy all around. That’s why he gets my vote.
3. Queen Elinor (Brave)
Who hasn’t wanted to turn their parent into some kind of animal at one time or another? I mean, we’ve all entertained such fantasies. Merida actually turns her mother into a bear in Pixar’s Brave. It turns into a great bonding moment for the mother/daughter duo. I just love how Queen Elinor tries to remain as dainty and ladylike as possible in her ursine state. While entertaining, it’s great seeing that core part of her personality stick around – until it doesn’t, of course.
2. Winnie the Pooh (Assorted Winnie the Pooh Films)
“Tegan, you watch so much Winnie the Pooh stuff all of the time, why isn’t he Number One on your list?” That’s very simple. While I find Winnie the Pooh’s voice and mannerisms to be comforting – not to mention the number of things he and I have in common – I have to admit that he’s kind of a single-minded jerk sometimes. Let’s take a look at his most recent theatrical outing, 2011’s Winnie the Pooh. He makes Piglet do all of the work digging the Backson-catching pit and then puts his little buddy in danger while pursuing honey. Sure, Pooh redeems himself in the end, but his pursuit of honey at the exclusion of other things can make him a little unbearable. (Yes, I went there.)
1. Iorek Byrnison (The Golden Compass)
Polar Bear in armor! POLAR BEAR IN ARMOR! Look, it’s been ages since I’ve read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy so I can’t speak to Iorek Byrnison’s literary presence, but I’m happy to talk about how he’s the only cool thing I remember from the film adaptation of The Golden Compass. Seriously, look at that picture. There are better ones of him out there with him and what’s-her-face (I know it’s Lyra, but I’m commenting about how forgettable the film was here). I’m going to take a moment to grumble about how they made the ending more and less horrifying than it was in the book. Anyway! Iorek is an amazing, honorable, and fearsome bear. By badassery alone, he made it to the top.