Big Bear
dir-scr Joey Kern
prd Brett Forbes, Patrick Rizzotti, Brandon Evans, Joey Kern, Luke Edwards
with Joey Kern, Pablo Schreiber, Adam Brody, Tyler Labine, Zachary Knighton, Heidi Heaslet, Toby Huss, Ahna O'Reilly, Rose Peterson, Patricia Rae, Timothy A Burton, Jason Winget
release US 22.Sep.17
17/US 1h28
Big Bear
Bad plan: Kern, Labine and Knighton

schreiber brody
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Big Bear There's plenty of laddish energy in this rather contrived Hangover-style comedy, but it never quite has the courage of its convictions, wimping out of every opportunity to go for a properly outrageous gag. This leaves the film feeling tepid and predictable, even though it has a loose charm to it that at least keeps it from ever getting boring.

After being dumped by his fiancee Jess (O'Reilly) for another guy, Joe (Kern) agrees to go ahead with his stag weekend at Big Bear Lake so his friends Eric, Nick and Colin (Brody, Labine and Knighton) can cheer him up. Of course, this involves lots of alcohol and a stripper (Heaslet). As he nurses his hangover the next morning, Joe discovers that the other guy (Schreiber) is tied up in the basement. The question is what to do now. And for Joe that decision gets more difficult the moment the guy starts talking.

Joe's pals are three oddly nihilistic guys who don't believe in love or marriage, and yet they are for some reason determined to get the whole truth about what happened between Joe and Jess. They're also the standard three types: a brainy guy, a womaniser and a chucklehead (with Joe as the hapless one). Because the film plays it so safely, nothing they do very believable. And it never quite makes sense that these four men could possibly be be friends.

Performances are broad and rather absurd. Kern is the every-guy, frazzled by what's happening, although he never really explores how it must feel to be dumped right before a wedding. Still, he's the only one who's remotely sympathetic. It's a nice touch that Schreiber unapologetically plays his role as such a jerk, a victim impossible to sympathise with, although he's more realistic than anyone else in the house, and actually has some moments of honesty as things spiral out of control. The other three guys are just idiots.

The film plays into the tedious tendency to equate both happiness and masculinity to a salary level and the ability to "support a family". And as a director, Kern strains to create tension by inserting stylised mini-montages complete with growling bear metaphor. But it's just a whizzy distraction, and instead of trying to find anything interesting in the story or characters, the film trundles along with a series of random events that simplistically link jealousy with violence. At least the scenery is nice.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, drugs 17.Sep.17

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