In the Kingdom of Rhythm, everyone loves to sing and dance. From the citizens, to the friendly animals, it is a land of peace and tranquility. When the rulers of the Kingdom, King Jason and Queen Catherine, welcome a baby girl, Princess Katrina into the world, they give her a protector to watch over her. This protector is Bongee, an orphaned bear who gladly takes on this massive responsibility. Bongee and Katrina grow up together and become great friends, and have a wonderful life in the Kingdom.
When the time comes for the Kingdom’s annual festival, everyone is excited. It’s a magical time of year where everyone joins together for fun, food, and of course, dancing. Even the local witch, the evil Bandrilla, is invited to join the festivities, but when she becomes embarrassed by her two left feet, she puts a spell on the Kingdom, and takes away their ability to sing and dance. The citizens are dismayed, and it is up to Bongee to rise up and protect the Kingdom with the help of his animal friends.
Bongee Bear and the Kingdom of Rhythm has the feel of an old-fashioned storybook. This is quite apparent in the narrative, as it is features a lot of the archetypal characters you would typically see in a fairy tale. The 2D animation style, while not particularly dynamic, contributes to this as well, as it feels like the characters and settings are right out of a pop-up book.
There is a sense of simplicity to the film as a whole, which makes it perfect for young viewers. The bright colors, likable characters, and easy to follow plot make this a good film for toddlers and young children, but those who are a bit older than that may not find it as enjoyable. In addition to this, the songs will likely delight younger viewers, but parents may find them a bit generic.
As someone who has watched a fair amount of animation over the years, I was most impressed by the cast, which is largely made up of veteran voice actors. Bongee Bear himself is voiced by the amazing Rob Paulsen, who has voiced many of my favorite characters over the years, including Yakko from Animaniacs, Carl Wheezer from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, and Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, to name a few. He brings a gentle sense of heroism to the character, and does a great job of adjusting his energy to the type of film this is. We also have Ruth Buzzi of Laugh-In fame as the villainous Bandrilla, who embodies the old crone stock character quite nicely, while adding in her own small touches here and there. Other standouts include prolific voice actors Jess Harnell and Jeff Bennett as Barnabas and Ivan, two crows who serve as Bandrilla’s henchmen, the late, great, Dom DeLuise as Myrin, Bongee’s sidekick, and legendary actress June Lockhart as the wise and helpful owl, Mindy.
I am clearly not in the target audience for this film, but it’s a cute little animated film, and it teaches children an important lesson in acceptance. I can definitely see younger viewers loving it and having a fun time with Bongee and his friends, and they will likely get more out of it than I did. Parents, on the other hand, may not be as thrilled with the film, but it’s largely inoffensive and far from the worst thing you could show your children. It’s a positive, light, fairytale-esque movie that will delight young viewers, and might even have them singing and dancing along with the film’s charming characters.
Bongee Bear and the Kingdom of Rhythm comes to select theaters and VOD on December 3rd.