“Bear With Us” is described as a romantic farce, but it’s really so much more. Filmed in black and white, this comedy of errors creates a laugh out loud dark comedy full of irony, cynicism, and screwball antics. Co-written by Russ Nickel and William J. Stribling, and directed by Stribling, the film tackles love and figuring out life. Colin (Mark Jude Sullivan) is hopelessly and madly in love with Quincy (Christy Carlson Romano) so he does what comes naturally—he proposes. Having been turned down, Colin doesn’t give up. Six months pass and he develops an elaborate plan to propose again in a cabin in the woods with the help of his and Quincy’s best friends. What could go wrong? Absolutely everything—in all the right ways.
Colin is a little uptight, always scheduling, planning, and reassessing his scheduling and his planning. He’s got all the details covered as he pulls in his hapless best friend, Harry (Collin Smith), to make this convoluted weekend in the woods a dream come true. Tammy (Alex McKenna), the free-thinking substance lover tags along to help her selfish BFF Quincy just get through the weekend. Colin’s plan to help Quincy get over her fear of bears (her original excuse for not getting married) begins to unfold, but we know horror lies ahead. The exquisite style of filming and editing with the the over-the-top music makes sure you know what you’re in for. I’ll let you watch the film to understand the ever-changing scheme. Needless to say, there are plenty of miscommunications, misunderstandings, crazy Lucille Ball types of situations, and a few gruesome scenes to keep you glued to the hilarious misadventures.
“Bear With Us” is in many ways just good old-fashioned fun. The characters are exaggerated and we love them all, embracing their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Bringing these old-school notions into the current day with cell phone distractions, a little drug usage somehow done in the right way (really, it is!) to make it funny, and a little bit of sex create the perfect storm. There’s never a dull moment in this film and as soon as we think we know all the characters, we are introduced to two more strange yet fun people: Hudson (Cheyenne Jackson), the crazed outdoorsman and Ranger Rick (Kevin Carolan), the protector of bears. It’s a wonderfully silly romp in the woods…with a little blood spilled.
The cast is outstanding. Smith’s comedic timing is sublimely paired with straight-guy Sullivan’s impeccable reactions. They make you pay close attention so you don’t miss one laugh. Jackson couldn’t be better cast as the outdoorsman obsessed with finding “D” batteries and educating those city dwellers who don’t know the outdoors. There’s a lot of physical comedy in this film as well, augmenting each performance. McKenna, Romano, and Carolan balance the film with their respective characters. Perhaps Quincy and Colin aren’t exactly a match made in heaven, but this cast is.
“Bear With Us” is a clever dark comedy, embracing old-fashioned screenwriting with today’s sense of humor. The hilarious situations, outcomes, and interactions completely captivate you, allowing you to truly escape and just have fun.
“Bear With Us” is playing as a part of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival this weekend. To get tickets, go to Chicago Comedy Film Festival Tickets