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the entire movie.
There, the Great Wishing Star gives the group their "tummy symbols", pictures that indicate each creature's role or specialty. True Heart Bear and Noble Heart Horse, as the characters are named, become founders of the Kingdom of Caring, a land which comprises Care-a-Lot and the Forest of Feelings.
For the Bears' first Caring Mission, True Heart and stowaway Swift Heart Rabbit (one of the Cousins) travel to Earth and visit a summer camp. There, they meet three of its participants: a girl named Christy, and her friends, the twins John and Dawn. A boastful boy nicknamed the "Camp Champ" always defeats them in competitions, and assigns them to trash duty. Christy is unsatisfied at this; she and her friends run away, only to get lost in the woods.
True Heart soon finds John & Dawn and brings them to the Kingdom of Caring. After they arrive, the children hear a bell toll from the Caring Meter, which tells the Bears how much caring is taking place on Earth. Noble Heart and True Heart tell them to babysit the Cubs, before they leave to search for Dark Heart and Christy.
Meanwhile, in the woods, Christy meets Dark Heart (as a human boy) for the first time, and asks him to make her the new Camp Champ. He grants her that wish, telling her she must pay him back with one favor, and heads away while she rejoins her friends. Aware of Dark Heart's potential, True Heart and Noble Heart move the Bear Cubs to Care-a-Lot, and the Cousin Cubs to the Forest of Feelings. Both sets quickly grow up to become the Care Bear Family.
Later, while the Bears prepare a party for the Kingdom's founders, Dark Heart enters Care-a-Lot in disguise so that he can capture the whole Family. A cluster of Star Buddies, assistants to the Bears and Great Wishing Star, drives him off; he then morphs into a raging red cloud.
The Bears shoot light at him from their bellies, forming their "Care Bear Stare"; the Cousins also help by using their "Care Cousin Call". Afterward, True Heart and Noble Heart decide to search for him, and leave the Bears to handle missions all by themselves.
During their patrol, Wish Bear spots Christy stranded in a canoe within a lake; the other Bears and Cousins set out to rescue her. Dark Heart fires lightning bolts before the team, and captures many of them with his magic bag— the favor he wanted Christy to do all along.
The few Family members at hand determine that she has teamed up with him. This prompts Tenderheart Bear to hold a conference at the Hall of Hearts; Friend Bear, Secret Bear and Christy's friends later join them.
That night, Dark Heart's influence causes the other children to wreck the camp. The Bears and Cousins search for the Family members, before Dark Heart imprisons them—first in cages, then inside big rubies hanging from a chandelier. Meanwhile, John and Dawn tell Christy of their conviction to rescue the Family from the villain. Feeling guilty, she finally pays him back by admitting what she has done. Despite this, her bargain with Dark Heart is over.
True Heart, Noble Heart, John and Dawn enter Dark Heart's lair amid his impending deed; Christy asks him to free the others. While True Heart and Noble Heart enact their Stare, lightning from his cloud strikes Christy, who screams in fear and gets strucked and wounded. With little energy left in her, she crashes down the chandelier with a marble. The Family members, finally free from the rubies, help True Heart and Noble Heart out.
At the sight of a dead Christy, Dark Heart becomes remorseful for his actions. He asks the Care Bears to bring her back to life, but is disappointed that their kindness is not even enough. So he, the Family, John and Dawn chant "We care!" enough times to bring her back to life. Soon after, the group quickly leaves the cave as it transforms into an outhouse.
Dark Heart becomes a real boy and everyone is overjoyed. After a swim in the lake, the campers say goodbye to the Bears and Cousins; the former Dark Heart promises to be a better person at camp.
The film ends with a message from its narrator, the Great Wishing Star and flashbacks of the Care Bear Family's childhood.
- Dark Heart/The Boy - Hadley Kay
- Great Wishing Star - Chris Wiggins
- Christy - Cree Summer Francks
- John - Michael Fantini
- Dawn - Alyson Court
- Camp Champ - Sunny Besen Thrasher
- True Heart Bear - Maxine Miller
- Noble Heart Horse - Pam Hyatt
- Brave Heart Lion - Dan Hennessey
- Tenderheart Bear - Billie Mae Richards
- Friend Bear - Eva Almos
- Grumpy Bear - Bob Dermer
- Share & Funshine Bear - Patrice Black
- Harmony Bear - Nonnie Griffin
- Bright Heart Raccoon - Jim Henshaw
- Cheer Bear - Melleny Brown
- Wish Bear - Janet-Laine Green
- Playful Heart Monkey - Marla Lukofsky
- Bedtime Bear - Gloria Figura
- Bob Dermer as Good Luck Bear
The success of "The Care Bears Movie" guaranteed production for a follow-up film which was in consideration by May of 1985.
As with the first film, the production took place at Nelvana's facilities and Taiwan's Wang Film Productions.
The Canadian studio also hired South Korean personnel to handle inking and painting, but this time, over one hundred Nelvana animators worked on the film for over a seven-month period that lasted until February of 1986; the company itself received credit for the story development.
American Greetings and Kenner commissioned Nelvana to make the sequel on contract; television syndicator LBS Communications, a co-financier of the first one became the producer and presenter.
The movie was Nelvana's third animated feature film after 1983's "Rock & Rule" and "The Care Bears Movie."
The movie marked the directorial debut of Dale Schott, a Nelvana staff member who served as assistant director on the first Care Bears movie as well as the Nelvana/Lucasfilm TV series "Ewoks."
Several other crew members from the first film returned to the fold; Nelvana's founders (Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert and Clive A. Smith) served as the producers while Peter Sauder wrote the screenplay and Charles Bonifacio handled the animation duties.
Once again, Jack Chojnacki (the co-president of American Greetings' licensing division, Those Characters from Cleveland) served as an executive producer.
Toronto voice actors such as Cree Summer, Sunny Besen Thrasher, Dan Hennessey and Hadley Kay appeared in the sequel. Mickey Rooney and Georgia Engel (who did voice-over work in the first film) didn't return for the sequel.
At one point, The Samuel Goldwyn Company was about to release the movie, but they lost the distribution rights after they turned down demands from the producers.
Eventually, Nelvana went into negotiations with Columbia Pictures, who acquired the worldwide theatrical rights in early 1986.
This led founder Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. to remark, "The fact that Columbia is distributing the Care Bears sequel is typical of the greed of the big studios. Someone else has to go in and prove something works, then a studio will charge in."
"Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation" first opened in theaters on March 7, 1986, grossing $243,161 in 55 theaters and by its first few days, it grossed $449,649.
On March 21, 1986, the film received a wide theatrical release, debuting at #7 at the box office, grossing $2,489,750 during its opening weekend, ranking above a reissue of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," but "Sleeping Beauty" outgrossed the film by $59,000.
Domestically, the film grossed $8,540,346. By 1988, the film made over $12 million worldwide.
The movie received mostly negative reviews, partially because of their theory that the movie was part of the franchise's marketing scheme at the time of release.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given an audience score of 51% based on 411 user ratings and given an average rating of 3.6\5.
Vincent Canby from the New York Times began his review by proclaiming, "Product merchandising marches on" and said "Care Bears Movie II is a sort of pre-sequel that, I suspect, requires its audiences to have some prior knowledge of Care Bears. Very young kids may love this, but anybody over the age of 4 might find it too spooky."
In The Motion Picture Guide 1987 Annual, Jay Robert Nash wrote that the movie title "refers to the new featured characters who, more than coincidentally, have ended up on the toy shelves of stores everywhere."
A critic from the Omaha World-Herald, however, found it misleading and complained that the Cubs "are not 'a new generation' at all."
Several critics considered the film a prequel to the original such as the Omaha World Herald reviewer, Edward Jones of Virginia's The Free Lance-Star, Charles Solomon of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Cosford of The Miami Herald.
According to Michael H. Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he stated:
"Care Bears Movie II is what the film industry calls a 'requel,' tracing the origin of the Care Bear family and relatives of other species."
In his Animated Movie Guide, animation expert Jerry Beck gave "Care Bears Movie II" a half-star (½) out of four and offered this consensus:
"Unfortunately not many critics cared for the television standard limited animation, bland songs, and blatent [sic] product placement in this film. Strictly for toddlers over age six, [it] tries too hard to cram new characters into the plotline. The characters are obviously introduced to create toy lines. This is the weakest of the Care Bear movies. Avoid at all costs."
John Stanley expressed his views likewise in his 1988 film guide "Revenge of the Creature Features," stating:
"[This] inferior sequel [is] rather charmless. This is strictly Saturday Morning at the Cartoons, a blatant commercial for Care Bear toys and related products ... [T]he bulbs are out as far as ideas are concerned."
Hal Lipper of the St. Petersburg Times remarked that it "is an enormously engaging cartoon—quite a feat when you consider the saccharine psychobabble passing for dialogue."
The Miami Herald's Bill Cosford gave it two and a half stars out of four which was the same rating he had applied to its predecessor.
Edward Jones commented about the movie that "the animation can't compare with the best of Disney. Take a look at Sleeping Beauty [...] and you'll see the difference."
Italian critic Paolo Mereghetti said, "[This is an] ugly sequel with awkward animation, and not even the small fry will find it fun."
Charles Solomon said, "The new Care Bears film...is even more sloppily made and hawks its goods even more shamelessly. [...] The film makers seem more concerned with showcasing the toys than providing entertainment; shared profits obviously count for more than shared feelings. If someone started selling 'Hate Bears,' there undoubtedly would be a film about them."
Gene Siskel awarded the film zero stars out of four.
Leonard Maltin gave the movie "BOMB" rating in his movie guide, adding, "Your kids deserve better entertainment than this treacly stuff about the Kingdom of Caring. Prefab animation from the era of toy merchandising tie-ins."
In 2001, the Los Angeles-based Hastings Bad Cinema Society picked the movie as one of "The 100 Worst Movies of the 20th Century."
Complier Michael Lancaster stated, "Even suffering through a Barney video would be preferable to sitting through this."
Despite the negative feedback, the movie received some positive reviews as well.
Norma Dyess Michaud (of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) deemed the movie "a must-see for preschoolers, especially those who are in the throes of the current Care Bear mania."
Richard Martin praised the script and climax along with the performances of the orphan Cubs, stating, "Their pastel, birthday-cake-and-whipped-cream world has never looked sweeter."
The Philadelphia Daily News commented that it was "even better than the first one, which was good."
The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (1986)
- Worst Picture: Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert and Clive A. Smith (nominated)