The Fearless Four (German: Die furchtlosen Vier) is a 1997 animated film about four funny animals that all have one thing in common: they want to sing, but can't for various reasons. Production began in March 1995 when the studio was founded. It combined traditional animation with computer animation. The film was produced by Munich Animation and released by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. The film won a Bavarian Film Award for outstanding achievement in Germany.
The film was set in the near future and based loosely on the folk tale of the "Town Musicians of Bremen" by the Brothers Grimm.
The film follows the carefree lives of the easygoing bloodhound Buster, the woeful donkey Fred, the graceful Siamese cat Gwendolyn and the self-assured rooster Tortellini.
The film first begins with Buster, who likes to sing and dance instead of doing his job to hunt animals. His owners notice this and make a deal with one of Mix Max's (Stands for Mix and Match) henchmen to stuff him, which they do. Buster starts to worry, and tries to escape from being stuffed, which makes the owners and the henchman chase him pull his tail. This makes Buster angry; he attacks them and then escapes.
Fred the donkey who worked as a slave for his owner and sings about his life. His owner is angry that Fred is singing instead of working, sells him to Mix Max, and replaces him with a robot centaur named PowerTool. A female bee helps Fred escape by swarming with other bees at the driver in the truck. When Fred is freed, the signs for Bremen and Paris on the road have been switched/turned around. Fred and Buster talk about singing and wanting to be famous. They decide where to go to be famous singers by spinning a bone, to see if it stops on Bremen or Paris. It stops on Paris (which is actually Bremen), and they start going there.
Gwendolyn, a Siamese cat, is sad after her owner, Aunt Wanda died. The people who inherited her estate only care about finding two gems and not the cat. They are upset that Aunt Wanda couldn't tell them where they are, and knew that Gwendolyn has them. They hire a henchman from Mix Max to kill her. Instead, the nephew's kid tries to kill her, but fails, and she traps them in the basement. After her escape, she meets up with Buster and Fred, who have heard her sing, and let her join them on the journey.
Tortellini the rooster gets kicked out of his home after his wife gets mad at him after having an affair with a duck. He gets captured by a Mix Max worker, but is freed after a tree branch hits the cage. He escapes the cage after meeting the three journeying animals, and Fred kicks it. Tortellini talks to them, which annoys them; they leave him, but he catches up with them. They continue their journey. On their way, they meet an owl who tells them they are going the wrong direction to Paris (they are heading toward Bremen) and says it is dangerous in Bremen, but the animals continue on.
The town of Bremen is led by an evil scientist named Dr. Greed, the leader of the Mix Max factory. After they sing in Bremen, Mix Max eventually notices their talent and wants them to work for the factory, to improve the factory's image and make a famous jingle to make people buy their sausage products. Though they become famous, the animals get bored singing the same jingle all the time. They try but fail to get a change in music.
After a plan to stop it, the animals get thrown in jail, except Fred, who gets tickled in a machine until he passes out and gets tired. After he is thrown in, a mouse called Mozart tries to help them escape but can't, due to being too small. They eventually escape by Tortellini pulling Buster's tail while he sings, which makes him angry; he breaks the bars. They see Mix Max's scheme of caging animals to make there way to be slaughtered to make their sausages and try to help them from being slaughtered.
Eventually they get Mix Max to stop slaughtering animals to make sausages by making the factory go out of business during a election. After Dr. Greed and some of his henchmen escape, the animals trick and scare them by looking like a 8-eyed monster the owl mentioned earlier, and trapping them under a movable tiled floor after a battle between the animals and Dr. Greed and his henchmen to get the remote that can free the animals. After the animals are freed, Tortellini destroys the Mix Max factory after messing with the remote. The animals celebrate after the destruction of the factory.
The story was very loosely inspired by the folk tale of the Town Musicians of Bremen.
The film was a 1997 holiday season release with Anastasia, Flubber, Alien: Resurrection, The Borrowers, Home Alone 3, Titanic, Mouse Hunt, Mr. Magoo and the re-release of The Little Mermaid. The movie was started in March of 1995, and ended in December of 1996. 150 people from around the world worked on the movie, as well as animators in the computer animation department that worked on the backgrounds, the robot centaur in the movie, Powertool, as well as vehicles. The colorization, as well as the animation camera was created digitally. The film costed 15 million in USD.
In North America, the English version was released on Warner Home Video on May 7, 1998. The DVD was released on September 28, 2003. The most recent release was a re-release of the same DVD, but bundled with Rover Dangerfield, which was released on July 4, 2007. Germany received a DVD release twice; A regular release, and one from Warner Kids (a label for Warner Bros. films that were family-friendly) using the original name, Die Bremer Stadtmuzikanten. A Region 2 VHS was released in the United Kingdom on July 19, 1999. Greece, Russia, and Italy (as La Banda Del Rock - I Musicanti De Bremen) had a VHS release around or after 1998. France had a VHS release on September 15, 1999 (as Les musiciens de Bréme). Brazil got the film in 1998 and had a VHS release. It was called Os Quatros Aventureiros there in the country. The film premiered in the Netherlands in 2002 as De Bremer Stadsmuzikanten on VHS. Other countries like Spain (called Los Musicos de Bremen) also had a VHS release. The film is very rare in North America, really now only available from sources like Vudu, YouTube, and the Xbox video and music app. The film in the English version was available on Netflix in the fall of 2016.
In all releases of the movie outside of Germany, scenes were cut from the original version. Scene Include; The animals are celebrating and drinking wine after the Mix Max factory is destroyed, a song (which would be too sexual, as well as being disturbing for kids, involving Gwendolyn seducing Platini, which could be considered Beastality), extended footage of the tickle torture machine, and Fred being sent to it, a sexual innuendo joke (where a bee lands on a woman's breast on a magazine in one scene) and most of Dr. Greed's footage being cut to a few appearances and being at the finale. This reduces the film's run time to about 81 minutes in the other release not in Germany. Stuffed animals, a soundtrack, Bullyland figures, books and other items were produced for the movie's release.
The film went on television in North America on Encore (Encore Wam) years ago. It went on television in France on channels like AB3 and in the United Kingdom on Cartoon Network, and in Canada on YTV in 2010 and Treehouse TV in 2013 and has also appeared on other channels internationally.