After having reviewed thousands of films over the years, it's not often that an indie comedy actually makes me laugh out loud. However such was the case with Bear With Us, a Comedy Dynamics release starring Mark Sullivan as Colin Dense, a neurotic romantic who believes he's found the perfect woman in Quincy (Christy Carlson Romano). When she rejects his well planned yet hilariously misguided proposal, Colin bides his time until six months later when he builds an elaborate new proposal around the suspect knowledge that his beloved Quincy is afraid of bears.
This ain't no Furry Vengeance.
Taking what could have easily come off as a bad SNL skit and bringing it to life in pretty hilarious and awesome ways, co-writer/director William J. Stribling has created that rare dark comedy that works as a dark comedy, a low-budget work of wonder that is laugh out loud funny throughout and blessed with a genuinely talented comedic ensemble.
Bear With Us wraps itself around the familiar "cabin in the woods" cinematic theme, but instead of coming off as formulaic and familiar the film reaches for comedic heights and, maybe more than anything, just has an awful lot of fun. Joining Colin and Quincy for a couple of days in the woods, friends Tammy (Alex McKenna) and Harry (Collin Smith) amp up the film's comic antics even higher and then we hit "11" when Ranger Rick (Kevin Carolan) enters the picture.
No, he's not the Boy Scout mascot.
Bear With Us picked up a slew of prizes on the film festival circuit including prizes at Alameda International Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize), Chicago Comedy Film Festival (Best Director - Stribling; Best Actor - Sullivan), Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (Best Narrative Feature Film), FilmQuest (Best Feature Film, Best Supporting Actor - Cheyenne Jackson, Best Supporting Actress - Alex McKenna), Flyway Film Festival (Breakout Filmmaker), Gasparilla International Film Festival (Audience Award - Best Feature and Best Actress - Christy Carlson Romano), Hill Country Film Festival (Best Feature), New Orleans Horror Film Festival (Best Script - Stribling and Russ Nickel), North Hollywood Cinefest (Best Actress), Orlando Film Festival (Best Ensemble), and Sunscreen Film Festival (Best Supporting Actress).
What does all this mean for you the viewer? This film kicks ass and you're going to love it.
Bear With Us is a difficult film to describe without spoiling all of the fun, though the plot, chaotic as it may be, is also rather straightforward and perhaps best described as "painfully obvious with a healthy dose of cluelessness."
It frequently works as narrative, but even when it doesn't it's remarkably funny.
Filmed in black-and-white, which my gut tells me makes it an even better film, Bear With Us also has an absolutely terrific appearance by Cheyenne Jackson as a battery-obsessed backwoods primitive with a woolly charisma.
Being distributed by Comedy Dynamics, one of the largest independent comedy and production companies, Bear With Us takes a basic comedy set-up and brings it hilariously to life thanks to the top notch script from Stribling and Nickel and the ensemble cast that actually works together as an ensemble with an energy and spontaneity that feels improvisational yet, to even more comedic effect, grounded in actual relationships. You can catch the film for yourself via Amazon by clicking on the video above this review.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic