movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by ctsquared who says... "I took my 4 year old son to see this movie and he was totally engrossed. I have had to re-tell the story to hime several times since. This was a great Disney flick. The animation was spectacular. The story itself was kind of predictable but it had a great message. This may not be a Disney Classic like the Lion King or as good as Finding Nemo, but it is a very worthy addition to the Disney tradition and should do very well!"
The story takes place begins in a Native American tribe in the Pacific Northwest, thousands of years ago. It is told in flashback as an elderly Native American is telling a group of children a story about him and his three brothers. We meet three brothers: brave older brother Sitka (voice by D.B. Sweeney), strong-willed middle brother Denahi (Jason Raize) and the troublesome young Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix). Each wears a totem around his neck, representing the animal spirit he is identified with. Sitka wears an eagle (for leadership), Denahi a wolf (for wisdom), and Kenai -- well, Kenai gets a bear, and considers himself short-changed, especially when he's told by the tribal elder that the bear represents the quality of love. Kenai gets teased by his brothers (lovingly) and wishes he a different totem.
Kenai doesn't like bears, and likes them even less when one has run off with the fish he and his brothers caught to feed the village. Kenai recklessly chases the bear and gets into a confrontation where he is in danger. Sitka and Denahi try to protect him, and Sitka sacrifices his life to save his brothers. Sitka is then transformed into an eagle, while bear gets away
Kenai is counseled by the tribe's wise woman Tanana (Joan Copeland) to accept this outcome as the will of the universe, but is determined to kill the bear. His brother Denahi also accepts the way things turned out saying it was not the bears fault. Kenai throws his bear totem on the fire (which Tanana picks up) and goes off to kill the bear. He succeeds, but his brother Sitka, who has observed everything from his vantage point as and eagle transforms Kenai himself into a bear. Denahi has followed his brother and seeing Kenais clothes
. and the bear standing over them assumes it was Kenai the bear who killed his brother. Denahi now vows to track down Kenai.
Kenai manages to escape from Denahi and when he wakes up he finds he is able to talk to the animals (and they to him) but is extremely unhappy to be one himself. Tanana appears to Kenai to tell him that Sitka made into a bear to teach him a lesson, and that to become a man again he he must seek Sitka on a mountain where light touches the Earth.
At this point Kenai meets a cub named Koda (Jeremy Suarez) who is looking for his mother (Important Later) who seems to have vanished. He says he knows where the mountain is, and since it also where all the bears gather for the annual salmon run, he will take Kenai there.
The movie now becomes a road movie of sorts with Kenai initially not wanting anything to do with Koda. But Koda is cute and indirectly gives him bear lessons and they form a bond of big brother and little brother. Their trek there involves many adventures, including a scary encounter with flowing lava from a volcano. Two Canadian moose named Rutt and Tuke turn up and have conversations that sound amazingly like the McKenzie Brothers from SCTV, maybe because they are voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.
Kenai and Koda make it to the Salmon Runner, which a like Shriners convention for bears.
Though Kenai seems a bit odd for a bear, the other bears welcome him to the group and Kenai finds he enjoys their company
That night the bears play a game where they tell what they have been doing for the past year. Kenai says he met an obnoxious little cub named Koda but that now he loves him like a brother. When Koda has his turn, he tells about how he and his mother wear eating salmon when his Mother saw hunters coming and went off to protect Koda from them, telling Koda to hide. Koda says he has not seen his mother since. Kenai realizes that HE and his brothers were the hunters and that he has killed Kodas mother. He feels very ashamed and goes off by himself.
When Koda finds him and asks why he is so sad, Kenai tells him the story of how he became a bear and that he killed his mother. While he tries to say how sorry he is, Koda gets very upset and runs away. Kenai tries to find him and once again tells Koda how sorry he is. Koda hears him but does not say anything. Kenai gives up and sadly heads to the mountain.
Koda hooks up with Rutt and Turke who are having an argument where they initally tell each other they hate each other but realize that they are brothers and make up. Koda realizes he loves Kenai as well and forgives him. He runs after Kenai
.. Who is by now on the mountain where he meets Denahi who has gon there to grieve for the loss of both his brothers. Seeing the bear Kenai, he gets angry and attacks Kenai who tries to tell him who he is (but cant obviously). Just then Koda jumps in to help Kenai as Denahi is about to kill him.
Sitka the eagle reappears in human form to Denahi and Kenai and turns Kenai back into a human. Denahi realizes who the bear really was and is happy to see his brother again and they hug. Poor little Koda realizes he doesnt have anyone anymore and Kenai embraces him. He also realizes that he cannot leave Koda by himself and that his destiny is to raise him. He asks Sitka to turn him back into a bear saying he (Koda) needs me. Denahi realizes that he has not lost his brothers and they will be with him as the spirit of an eagle and as a bear. Koda also has touching reunion with his mother, who has returned in spirit form as well. As Sitka and Kodas mother ascend to the heavens, the elderly Native American who is telling the story (and we now know is Denahi as an old man) concludes the story by saying that he and Kenai and Koda returned to the village where Kenai puts his hand (paw) print on the cave wall to show he has indeed become a man. Sitka the eagle witnesses this and flies off, his task completed.
In a sequel of sorts, the end credits show some very funny out takes showing Kenai and Koda and Rutt and Turke carrying on.