Their union is not to be, however, as the ceremony is halted after clouds fill the sky and the pair is literally divided by a lightning bolt, clearly illustrating the disapproval of the Great Spirits. Nita consults Innoko (comedienne Wanda Sykes), an unfortunate "sha-woman" character whose screen time is thankfully limited. With no shortage of contemporary feminist sass, Innoko informs Nita that she must reunite with her old childhood friend, Kenai, and the two must together burn an amulet (that's a neck charm, for those too lazy to look it up) that Kenai gave to her years ago. They must do this at Hokani Falls, a site which requires a trek. Oh, and they only have until the vernal equinox, which is three days away. To aid Nita in the communication department, Innoko grants her the ability to talk Bear, or actually, the Universal Animal Language. This is a good move for all, because the few instances in which the bears sound like real bears always come across as unintentionally hilarious regardless of the context.
Brother Bear 2 is episodic and predictable. It's also a little childish in places, as it appeals to young viewers' senses of humor in broader strokes than the more solemn predecessor did. Still, I can't say I disliked it. It certainly doesn't opt for an excess of preachiness or dumbed-down tendencies. The storytelling here isn't quite as sophisticated as before, but it's in the same vein and doesn't yield entirely different results. The movie flirts with being a retread, but it does enough things differently to be cleared of that charge. It's a bit difficult to pinpoint exactly why this is neither better nor worse than it is, but I've got a theory: the first film does not feel like something intended to be sequelized. Of course, the same point can be made of other classic animated tales, like say, The Lion King (which is less emulated here than last time around) and its two sequels turned out okay. But something about the original Brother Bear--its arcs, tone, and characters seem most suspect--somehow make an even greater case for it being a standalone movie. Nevertheless, "okay", "not bad", and "fair enough" are benign comments I can apply to Brother Bear 2.
A previous reviewer said the sequel was better than the original. No, not quite, but it's reasonably close. It shows the usual drop in quality of Disney's direct-to-video sequels.
The present reviewer is right in saying Brother Bear had an unsatisfactory ending. Was Kenai really choosing to spend the rest of his life as a bear, without human companionship? The question of finding a mate was an obvious one and this film addresses it.
From a Native standpoint, Brother Bear 2 is less objectionable than Brother Bear because it shows (or invents) less of the Native culture. The main bit is the scene with the "sha-woman," described above, where she performs typical Indian "magic." Any Indian magic is suspect, since it implies Indian beliefs are closer to supernatural gimmickry than a true religion. But since this is a Paleo-Indian tribe with no clear connection to an existing Inuit or Native Alaskan group, it's hard to say her actions aren't authentic.
There are only a couple more cultural bits worth mentioning. One shows two aunts suggesting different clothes, hairstyles, and meals for Nita the bride-to-be. From what I've seen, most Native cultures have strict, well-defined marriage protocols. Arguing over the particulars as if they aren't set by centuries of tradition seems peculiarly Western to me.
Another bit shows Natives dancing with moose antlers on their heads and a totem pole topped with moose antlers. I haven't heard of a Native culture revering the moose like that. I'm guessing it's made up rather than based on anything real.
Rob's rating for Brother Bear 2: 7.5 of 10.