“This is more of a job for like Boring Heart Bear.”

Care Bears: A Belly Badge for Wonderheart is a collection of three episodes of the serialized cartoon Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot. A brief description of the episodes is included below:

* “Cub Bouts” — Wonderheart Bear (Michaela Dean) can’t join the Cub Bouts until her belly badge powers activate. So instead of being patient she steals enchanted charms meant for children’s wishes and convinces everyone she has the greatest powers they’ve ever seen.

* “In a Flash” — A stardust storm means Tenderheart Bear (David Lodge) and Grumpy Bear (Doug Erholtz) don’t have time to help train Wonderheart Bear so she can maybe get her belly badge powers. Determined to prove she’s ready, though, Wonderheart heads out into the storm to see if she can help, leaving a frantic pack of bears to comb Care-a-Lot for her.

* “Beaconing for Attention” — Fed up with Wonderheart using her belly badge powers merely to time Care Bears to see how long they take to come to her Tenderheart decides she needs a responsibility lesson. So she and new friend Isabella (Katherine Shepler) are handed off one by one. Cheer Bear (Patty Mattson), Share Bear (Stephanie Sheh), Harmony Bear (Nayo Wallace), and Funshine Bear (Michael Sinterniklaas) almost tear their fur out over the duo’s antics.

The storytelling is very cohesive, especially considering the episodes aren’t sequential to the season but rather grouped together due to their shared thematic elements. I especially appreciate the progression of Wonderheart’s story. First she wonders why she doesn’t have powers and has to deal with the repercussions of pretending. Then when she accepts it and takes steps to try and get training she still lacks the necessary patience and encounters more repercussions. When her powers finally activate, Wonderheart learns they come with a side dish of additional responsibility she hadn’t counted on. The best aspect of the stories being told, though, is how Wonderheart gets herself out of the various predicaments Care Bears: A Belly Badge for Wonderheart presents. It’s a good message for kids to learn, that they can and should be responsible for their choices.

Fans of the original eighties movies and television shows may be disappointed with the fully computer-animated transfer. The 1.78:1 widescreen presentation provides a broad canvas for the transfer and there’s always a lot to look at. The colors are vivid and sparkly and though there’s a lack of crystal clear delineation between foreground and background elements, it’s nothing the target audience will notice or find bothersome. The audio track is simple Dolby 2.0 Stereo. However simple works, especially as it’s mixed for television sets as opposed to a theater. Kids won’t mind the lack of a surround sound track and the dialogue and Foley are distinct enough adults won’t be bothered either.

Bonus features consist of a pair of music videos.

Care Bears: A Belly Badge for Wonderheart is a harmless film with a good message about taking responsibility for your actions. Its short runtime means parents won’t have to endure the cuddly bears for too long yet it’s a decent enough length that kids will be occupied for a while. I’ve been a fan of the Care Bears for a while, and it lives up to my recommendations.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

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