Jack The Bear (1993)
Chad DeFeo | Philadelphia, PA USA | 10/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Danny DeVito is one of the most talented actors in the movie-making business. He has been a favorite of mine for many, many years. He has starred in such movies, as "Batman Returns", "Junior", "Twins", "The War Of The Roses", "Throw Momma From The Train", etc. But his most touching performance is in "Jack The Bear", a heart-felt film that should have touched the hearts of millions.
After losing his wife in an automobile accident, John Leary (played by Danny DeVito) is left to raise his two sons, Jack and Dylan, in the year of 1972. John is the host of a late-night T.V. Horror movie show. He gives Jack and Dylan more love than you could imagine. But because of the sudden death of his wife, John is an alcoholic. Jack, who is only 12 to 13 years of age, is struggling with the painful problems of getting his father to quit drinking and the painful loss of his mother. To add to their struggling lives, living next door is Norman (played by Gary Sinese), a scary neo-Nazi, who is crazier than we all think. What pushes Norman to the furthest extent in his insanity is a drunk John Leary hosting another episode of his show, where he vulgarly insults Norman. For revenge, Norman poisons his own dog and dumps it on the Leary's front lawn. You would think he would leave it at just that, but Norman's insanity is much worse than that. He kidnaps Dylan, John's adorable four-year-old son, and leaves him for dead in the nearby woods. John already has enough problems on his, with being an alcoholic, dealing with the pain of his wife's death, being fired from his job. Jack already has enough problems of his own, with growing up and dealing with the pain of losing his mother, as well as watching his father drink his life away. Little did they know that Dylan's kidnapping would be more than they could have handled. John was allowed to go back on his set to reveal the news of his son's kidnapping, asking anybody to set out and find him. Dylan is found and taken to the hospital. Because of the frightening trauma he has suffered, Dylan refuses to speak to anybody. Dylan is allowed home after spending three days in the hospital. John and Jack try to bring Dylan out of his shell, but Dylan is utterly terrified, causing John to call his parents to come and help. While trying to fix Dylan's bed, John has trouble with it, causing him to pout and scream at the bed. Dylan clutches on to his grandmother in fear of this. Trying to make Dylan see that he is not angry, John has finally had enough. He grabs a wooden baseball bat and walks next door to Norman's house. Barging in and screaming at the top of his lungs, John is told by Norman's parents that Norman has simply disappeared. John leaves the house and beats the hell out of Norman's car. Because of this, John has his parents take Jack and Dylan to their place for awhile, while John can pull himself together. He tries by getting his job back, but the producer's refuse. Jack misses his father terribly, so he secretly books a flight back home to see his father, but John is not there. Jack sits in his bedroom and falls asleep, while watching the original Wolfman. John returns home, but as he does, the power is cut off. He searches for the power box, still unaware of Jack's return. Jack has been awaken by the power failure. As John searches the darkened house, with the help of a flashlight, he finds Jack's luggage. Surprised and shocked, he calls out Jack's name. Jack has already sensed his father's presence, but he has also sensed the presence of someone else...Norman. He hides in his father's bedroom closet. John leans his ear up against the closet and calls out to Jack. Jack mistakenly hits John over the head with a baseball bat, and that is when Norman storms after Jack. He climbs out of the window and onto a tree. But Norman loses his balance and falls into a nearby backyard, where a four or five Dobarmin Pintchers rip Norman to shreds. For the next week, John and Jack clean the house, readying themselves for Dylan's arrival from his grandparents. On the night of Dylan's arrival, Jack reminisces about his mother and begins crying his eyes out. John comes to consol him, where Dylan finally breaks his silence by saying, "...Jack, The Bear...". That is the nickname Jack's mother used to call him. The three of them hug each other like there is no tomorrow.
This is the most touching film I have ever seen in my life. It has everything: comedy, drama, and just a pinch of horror. Danny DeVito gives his most touching performance as John Leary. His performance makes you feel the pain he and his two sons are struggling with, while continuing with their lives. This is a film that everybody can enjoy, no matter what age you are. If you have not seen this film, then please buy a copy for yourself. When you watch it for the first time, you may want to have a box of tissues handy."
The Best film you've never heard of
Kristopher Haines | Portland, OR United States | 11/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film had a gigantic impact on my life. It introduced me to the dark side of human nature. It showed me that "Monsters are Real". It got me started writnig dark fiction, at that time mostly bad copies of the events in this film, but I was very young, and very sheltered. I contemplated watching this film again before I reviewed it, but I don't want to. I'm afraid that if I watch it again I won't like it as much as I did then. You shoulld see my copy, I bought it new and now it looks like a rental. Where is the DVD? I can remember watching it only to rewind it and watch all over again. I can't tell you exactly what it is that resonated so strongly with me. The performances are great, I don't know if Danny Devito did a serious role ever again. It'a worth watching just for that. Not to mention Gary Sinise's un-nerving performance. After watching this film I became obsessed with everything in it: the A's, the soundtrack, finding the book. I found it years and years later, the book is almost as beat up as the VHS. I saw the film "Unstrung Heroes" not to long after I saw this film, besides having Julia Louise Dreyfuss (?) in common, it also has the same meloncholy appeal. Maybe that's just it, not only did "Jack the Bear" teach me about the existence of monsters, it may also have taught me about what makes real drama. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that it stirs my soul, and isn't that what all good films do?"
Hal Raglan | Los Angeles, CA | 10/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had a vague memory of this movie being released when I was asked to work on a resoration of it!?! I have to say it was one of the more deeply moving film experiences I'd had in a long time. The tone works so perfectly with the themes and plot it approaches a kind of "To Kill a Mockingbird" level, without all the current event related to that film. I can't say much more to explain my enthusiasm for this film except that if you grew up in the time and place of that "Jack the Bear" exists in you'll understand. This film was deeply painful in parts because of the versimilitude the filmmakers achieve. I know that Herskovitz and Zallian are known for much loftier material but this one hit its mark square on the nose.
Please give it a try."
Brings back a great era in time
Alex | La Habra, CA USA | 02/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Where is the DVD ??? As a kid growning up in the 70's the music brings me right back to where I was at that time in my life. Mr. De Vito, get with who ever you need to get with and pump out this DVD real soon. The movie makes you laugh, cry, frightens you and makes you just love family. All the performances in this movie are awesome and would love to see where some of those actors are now these days .... I'd be the first in line to get this movie ...."