April 15, 1985 12:00 PM

Their father was a birthday card and their mother was a cash register, but the Care Bears are a cuddly little bunch nevertheless. The warmth is surprising, since the American Greeting Corp. has spun off its ursine money-makers with a chilly calculation worthy of the Bears’ frequent adversary, Professor Cold Heart. As this charming feature-length cartoon shows, though, the Care Bears can generate real joy in a lot of ways. In an era when most cartoon characters seem to fry the villains with laser rays or obliterate them with knockout punches, the Care Bears—Tenderheart, Love-a-Lot, Bedtime, Funshine and friends—radiate little hearts that send the bad guys packing by loving them into submission. The do-badders in this case are an evil spirit and the teenage boy she turns into a nasty magician. If the Care Bears, helped out in their cause by a little boy and girl, aren’t triumphant, all the caring will disappear from the world. (This is obviously not a fate creatures associated with a greeting card company would want to go out of their way to encourage.) The cartoon colors are satisfyingly bright. The animation is generally excellent by modern standards, if not by those of the Disney classics. The voices—including those of Mickey Rooney, Georgia (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) Engel and Harry Dean (Paris, Texas) Stanton—are the result of real acting, not the patronizing kind of squealing and bellowing that kids too often have to put up with. And the sound track includes some spritely music written by Carole King and John Sebastian. The film may run a little long (75 minutes) for younger children, but its adorability quotient is sufficient that Mom and Dad might as well be realistic and head for their checkbooks: Naturally enough, there is a full line of collectible Care Bear figures of various types already lurking in the toy stores. (G)

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