Cigar City Magazine took a hard look at this year’s movies at the 2016 Gasparilla Film Festival and one movie in particular had us laughing our asses off!
Comedy is arguably the hardest genre to nail. If the jokes fall flat, there’s a good chance the film will fall apart too. Typically, the only comedies that receive any attention these days are raunchy buddy comedies à la Judd Apatow. So, imagine how refreshing it was to see a genuine farce where the humor relies on situation and performances as opposed to how well the actors can improv.
Bear With Us is the story of four friends vacationing in a cabin in the woods, but forget underground monster facilities and flesh-eating viruses, the assailant here is a ravenous bear. Unfortunately, this wasn’t exactly what Colin (Mark Sullivan) had in mind when he was planning on proposing to his long-term girlfriend, Quincy (Christy Carlson Romano). Accompanied “for moral support” by Colin’s banjo-playing buddy Harry (Colin Smith) and Quincy’s cocaine-addict best friend, Tammy (Alex McKenna), the four attempt to survive while running into various characters and obstacles along the way.
Based on the ludicrous plot, you’ll pretty much be able to determine whether or not you will enjoy Bear With Us. It’s even more insane than it sounds, yet strangely grounded in a way that feels more real than it should. Aside from a witty screenplay and smart direction from William J. Stribling, the energy is kept up by the charismatic cast who all bounce off of each other in a naturally funny way. There’s not one weak-link and while they aren’t as developed as they could’ve been, it’s the performances that really describe who they are as people. Whether it’s the hopelessly desperate Colin, or the blissfully ignorant Hudson (Cheyenne Jackson), they all have recognizable traits albeit some more exaggerated for the sake of laughs.
That isn’t to say the film isn’t without it’s flaws, while the laughs were pretty consistent, some of them didn’t hit as hard as they intended to, and although I previously praised the film for it’s nonsensical plot, it began drifting at times going from a proposal, to a bear, to other sub-plots that felt a little unnecessary, one involving the owners of the cabin comes to mind. That’s not to say these damage the quality of the film too much, but they are apparent.
In times like these when all that’s released are Melissa McCarthy comedies, it’s refreshing to see something independently made that has a lot of passion and care put into it, without forgetting the substance to go along with the jokes. Bear With Us is definitely a crowd-pleaser having won both the “Best Feature Film” and the “Audience Award” at the Hill Country Film Festival and Gasparilla International Film Festival respectively, it deserves the praise it’s been getting and it’s destined to become a cult classic.