Brash And Unsentimental: Our Review of ‘Big Bear’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - September 28, 2017
Brash And Unsentimental: Our Review of ‘Big Bear’

At first, Big Bear‘s fratbro characters make me doubt my attraction to men. The film comprises mostly of television’s good enough and bright enough stars. I have nothing against what Tina Fey calls the rat faced people of television. But actor/writer/director Joey Kern’s script starts roughly, and reflects TV’s tropes. Kern plays Joe, the clean-cut, weak willed straight man in his 30’s exasperated by buffoonish friends. Eric (Adam Brody), Colin (Zachary Knighton), and Nick (Tyler Labine) play these man-children.

These three comic stereotypes have this annoying habit of listening to rap music that they’re too white for. They get to be funny because he shouldn’t be. What’s more is that Joe drove up from Los Angeles to Eric’s cottage in Big Bear, California. He’s meeting the guys there, the latter group planning a bachelor party for him that he doesn’t want. He’s also getting a crash course in drinking like a bro which is something he apparently didn’t get earlier. They planned the night with beer and strippers and facial hair. things that Joe’s friends want more than he did. The script shows the old trope where characters do things for their friends for their supposed benefit.

The film picks up, a surprising yet inevitable turn. Joe’s impending marriage reminds his friends of their own complex relationship with love. They express these feelings with a mix of vulnerability, cynicism, and humour. There’s a scene where they give Joe the rules of what his bachelor’s party is suppose to go. And there’s a mix of jealousy and good will from them because of his marriage. The speeches that follow after organically hints at the tensions within the group. But more complex feelings pop up when he tells them why he doesn’t want a stag in the first place. And that’s because his fiancee Jess (Ahna O’Reilly), in love with another man, broke up with him. But the bachelor party’s still on.

This is a stag different from others. Because stags don’t normally involve coaxing the truth out of the celebrant as to why his relationship fell apart. It also doesn’t normally involve kidnapping the man (Pablo Schreiber) who the stole the celebrant’s fiancee. While all of this is happening, flashbacks haunt Joe where he sees Jess. These flashbacks, of course, is when the film’s indie/hip hop soundtrack ends and a bootleg Morricone score begins. Again, all of this is happening in a town in Big Bear. So of course we hear the flashbacks literally growling at him. Against by better interests, I’ll let the obvious metaphor pass this time around.

Schreiber as Dude knows enough to make his character not fully sympathetic yet to add an appeal to him. He becomes a character Joe reluctantly listens to. That’s partly because Jess seems to have told him everything about Joe and the relationship. What happens from then Joey switching between a chamber drama. Upstairs in the cottage, Joe consults his friends on what to do with the homewrecker. Downstairs is more interesting where he has a tete-a-tete with said homewrecker. There, Dude ends up giving Joe a funny version of tough love. One of these lessons is that he didn’t convince Jess to fall out of love with him. And that Dude, because he’s human, has an imperfect life of his own.

Dick jokes almost ruin genuine moments between characters but don’t, surprisingly enough. The longer the film goes the more its characters show their vulnerabilities. By the time the film began, its audience is probably wondering why Joe would have friends like he has. He eventually realizes this, and it’s never too late for such an epiphany. One of his other epiphanies is one that Kern steal from Fight Club. That he and most men marry because it’s a stage in his life. But I can never begruge a stolen lesson if I know that it’s true.

This character work is not just true for Joe. Facing a more virile man who can theoretically steal fiancees away is as hard for Joe. But it’s as for his friends too. Brody as Eric leaves his adorkable image behind. Here he effectively plays a creep who has chloroform and guns lying around near him. Knighton’s Colin brings up his ex an custody issues all the time. He faces those things that the other characters might have to separately. Tyler Labine is the most bro actor in this squad. But surprisingly Kern gives Labine speeches exploring Nick’s alcoholism and mourning another dead friend. I’d like to add that all these revelations still fit the film’s brash tone. And, thankfully, it never gives in to sentimentalism.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.