Reel Critics: 'Bears' a treat for cubs and others

Disney's acclaimed nature films offer vivid portrayals of animals in the wild. They entertain and educate young viewers in the biological realities of Earth's habitats. But for many years, this documentary style of observation has taken a back seat to the amplified world of zany computer animation.

Silly cartoon animals dominate screen fare for our children. Talking birds, dogs, donkeys and penguins wisecrack jokes in trivial screwball plots. But Disney's new wildlife film "Bears" is an outstanding counterpoint to all that nonsense.

Intrepid Disney cinematographers camped out in the Alaska wilderness for months. They captured a compelling true-life season in the lives of a courageous mother bear and her two cubs. They are placed in situations of extraordinary beauty and danger. Joyous discovery and dramatic tension come in equal measure as their adventures unfold.

The many kids in my audience were laughing, gasping and cheering at the events on screen. The parents attending seemed to share in the enjoyment as much as I did. And the crisp 77-minute running time quickly pulls it all together for young attention spans. "Bears" is a great family film.

—John Depko


Bring on the 'Other' movie

"The Other Woman" is an updated version of "The First Wives Club" with younger women, cuter outfits and about one-third less brain power. Not even the sassy Cameron Diaz or nutty Leslie Mann is enough to carry this farce.

Diaz plays Carly, first seen groping sexy boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and they seem to be a perfect couple falling in love. This perfect bubble is cruelly burst when Carly discovers Mark is married.

Wronged wife Kate (Mann) is understandably upset, but after about three minutes of her unfunny hysterics, we are ready for her to snap out of it.

Kate and Carly form a bond that is totally messed up. Kate constantly seeks Carly's counsel. It must be because not only is Carly a high-powered lawyer (what else?), but she knows how to keep a cool head and the secret of flawless makeup.

Thus follows some "Bridesmaids" bathroom humor and "Charlie's Angels" antics, which, I must admit, gave me some stupid laughs.

Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton has an unchallenging role as Mark's new plaything. Incredulously, there are no catfights, only cute girl talk over cocktails. This strains logic even more than Upton's tight swimsuit strains physics.

The only female in "The Other Woman" who seems to have smarts as well as style is singer Nicki Minaj as Kate's sharply observant assistant. If you're making a comedy about women, give us something better than this clumsy effort. Hell hath no fury like a woman bored.

—Susanne Perez

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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