Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 99 minutes
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A big city bear suddenly and quite reluctantly finds himself caring for his sister’s cub while she’s away on vacation. During their time together, the two grow to enjoy each other’s company and the cub is introduced to a lifestyle that’s something along the lines of a city bear jamboree. But the story wouldn’t be complete without an evil mother-in-law threatening to put a stop to all the fun as well as the new happy home bear and cub have made for themselves. No, this isn’t the next DreamWorks animated turd choker, even though there really is a clan of bears and a little cub involved – it may not be quite what you think.
In Juan Alexander’s (“Spanish Fly”) new film, Pedro, a gay dentist agrees to take care of his nine-year-old nephew, Bernard, for two weeks while his sister is away with her hippie boyfriend, even though this strange new living arrangement may cramp his highly active homosexual lifestyle – fixing teeth by day and wrecking shop by night. Pedro is a bear – a big, gay, hairy man, basically – and even though the term “cub” is mostly reserved for a sexually active younger bear to be, Bernard is the cub in this situation. This works as, while Pedro’s sister is dropping off Bernard at his home, she tells him that she believes her little son is gay and that she’s totally happy with that as that’s how she’d rather him grow up. Now, don’t worry. There are no criminally kinky shenanigans going on involving the young boy – this isn’t that kind of movie. In fact, this new living arrangement winds up calming down Pedro’s raging lifestyle a little bit as he finds himself having to take care of Bernard way longer than two weeks. They form a tight bond as Pedro acts as a friend and a parent, giving advice to and making provisions for young Bernard that he may not have had with his mother due to her wild druggie ways. You know how those wild druggies are. And yes, there still is an evil mother-in-law in this story that swoops in and decides that a young boy shouldn’t be living with a homosexual, threatening to break up their bond and happy home.
So, by my count, that’s two bear sightings in U.S. movie theaters this year. The first being in John Waters’ latest perv parade “A Dirty Shame” and now “Bear Cub”. This is good stuff as it takes steps towards breaking your average American’s view of the homosexual male. But at the same time, “Bear Cub” isn’t overtly about breaking stereotypes, it just does so by being what it is – a cute family story featuring a bunch of gay people. It doesn’t make any sort of in-your-face political stance. It just gets on with the story about an uncle wanting the best for his young nephew.
So having said that, we have the story to deal with and, as you can tell, it’s one that we’re all well familiar with. So what makes this film stand out, if anything at all? The performances by everyone from the leads to the supporting characters are exceptional. Even though you’re quite conscious of being pulled through a more than familiar story, the characters and the performances bringing them to life, while not turning them into gross cartoon caricatures, keep your interest. Being a Spanish film is also a major boost. If this were a Hollywood production, it would be weighed down by aforementioned gross cartoon caricatures and wacky antics. Crammed with gay people, Hollywood still has no clue…and no class. Instead, Juan Alexander’s film retains a pretty serious tone throughout, while not keeping it from being fun just at the right moments. And the story does have its little surprises here and there, so it’s not all completely predictable.
“Bear Cub” isn’t just a “gay movie”. There are just gay people in it. Anyone can get into this lovable film, being that you’re an adult of course, and it’s advised that you should to allow it to give you the giant bear hug that it’s offering.
Posted on November 6, 2004 in Reviews by Eric Campos
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- BEAR MOVEMENT
- THE HEART OF THE BEAR
- THE BOY WHO WANTED TO BE A BEAR (DVD)
- SXSW 2010: DAY THREE, LIVING IN A “BEAR NATION” WITH “THE HAPPY POET”
- BROTHER BEAR
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