Jack the Bear

Watch Jack the Bear

"Laugh. Cry. Hold on tight."
  • PG-13
  • 1993
  • 1 hr 39 min
  • 6.5  (4,359)

Jack the Bear is a 1993 drama film that tells the story of a single father and his two sons as they strive to cope with the death of their mother and navigate through a world full of challenges. The movie is set in Oakland, California, in the 1970s, where John Leary (played by Danny DeVito) works as a local TV personality hosting a late-night horror show called "Midnight Shrieks."

John is a loving father to his two sons, the 12-year-old Chris (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) and the younger Jack (Miko Hughes), who is only four years old. He is often caught up in his work, which involves hosting his show at night, sleeping during the day, and working on his own screenplay. However, his world is turned upside down when his wife dies in a car accident, and he is forced to take on the role of both mother and father to his two sons.

The plot revolves around the emotional struggles of the Leary family as they deal with the grief and loss of their beloved wife and mother. John finds it hard to balance his work with his responsibilities as a single parent, and his relationship with his eldest son becomes strained as he neglects his responsibilities as a father. Chris, who is dealing with puberty and adolescence, feels the absence of his mother and the detachment of his father, and his frustration leads him to seek solace in drugs and alcohol.

Jack, on the other hand, is a bright and imaginative child who is struggling to comprehend the death of his mother. He becomes increasingly withdrawn and isolated, often retreating into his own world of fantasy and imagination. He is haunted by nightmares which he believes to be real, and the only thing that brings him comfort is his father's nightly ritual of telling him bedtime stories.

As the Leary family struggles to cope with their grief, they encounter new challenges that force them to confront their inner demons. John's estranged brother, David (played by Gary Sinise), resurfaces in their lives, bringing with him a dark secret from their past. The arrival of David further exacerbates the already tense relationship between John and Chris, and Jack's nightmares become more frequent and vivid.

Against this backdrop of emotional turmoil and unremitting tragedy, Jack the Bear offers its audience an insightful and moving portrayal of family dynamics. The film highlights the themes of loss, redemption, and hope, and it offers its viewers a powerful message about the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

The performances in Jack the Bear are uniformly excellent. Danny DeVito delivers one of his most nuanced and affecting performances as a father caught in the throes of grief and despair. He imbues his character with a sense of authenticity that allows the audience to empathize with his struggles and relate to his pain. Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. is also compelling as the eldest son, Chris. He portrays the inner conflicts of adolescence with sensitivity and depth, and he brings an emotional rawness to his character that makes him feel authentic.

The standout performance in the movie, however, is that of Miko Hughes as Jack. His portrayal of a four-year-old child struggling with the death of his mother is both heartbreaking and incredibly powerful. His ability to convey the emotions of a child in such a visceral manner is a testament to his enormous talent as an actor.

In conclusion, Jack the Bear is a moving and thought-provoking drama that explores the complexities of family dynamics. Its themes of grief, loss, and redemption are explored with nuance and sensitivity, and its cast delivers some of their finest performances. Despite the film's somber storyline, it ultimately leaves its viewers with a sense of hope and a belief in the resilience of the human spirit.

Jack the Bear
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 39 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (4,359)