Jack the Bear
|Jack the Bear|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Marshall Herskovitz|
|Produced by||Bruce Gilbert
|Screenplay by||Steven Zaillian|
|Based on||Jack the Bear
by Dan McCall
Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Steven Rosenblum|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||99 minutes|
Jack the Bear is a 1993 American drama film directed by Marshall Herskovitz, written by Steven Zaillian based on the novel by Dan McCall, and starring Danny DeVito, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., Miko Hughes, and Gary Sinise.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (August 2011)|
Jack Leary (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.), his younger brother Dylan (Miko Hughes), and father John (Danny DeVito) start over in Oakland, California in 1972, following the death of the boys' mother. John hosts the local late-night show Midnight Shriek, entertaining the audience during horror films as "Al Gory."
He is devoted to his two sons, though his drinking problem disrupts the smooth running of the household, as some of his parental duties fall to Jack.
One of the Learys' neighbors, a young man named Norman Strick (Gary Sinise) who walks with a cane due to a twisted leg, shows up at their home one Halloween evening, seeking a donation for a racially-prejudiced candidate. John refuses. John gets drunk and his performance on his TV show mimics the racially-charged beliefs of his neo-Nazi neighbor. He is subsequently asked to take time off from his show. The morning after John's performance, Jack finds Norman's dog, Cheyenne, dead on their front lawn. John apologizes for his actions on television, but Norman refuses to shake John's hand.
Jack has a young love affair with Karen Morris (Reese Witherspoon), but she breaks up with him. He begins to take out his anger on Dylan. Dylan disappears and next-door neighbor Dexter (Justin Mosley Spink) claims Norman kidnapped him. Jack calls the police and he and John are extremely worried until Dylan is found in a nearby forest. Being abandoned in the woods for so long has left Dylan traumitized and appears left unable to speak from it. Norman has vanished and days later, Dylan still has not spoken. John takes out his frustration by going to the Strick home with a bat. Norman is not there, and after John briefly terrorizes the man's parents, John destroys Norman's beloved T-Bird with the bat. John, fearful of his current state, lets his in-laws take the boys to their Los Angeles home. Jack decides to sneak back to Oakland. John meanwhile, decides to try and give up drinking and spends the day trying to get his job back. Jack arrives home while he's still out and falls asleep to the TV.
John arrives home and shortly after, Jack is awoken by the electricity going off. We see someone walking with a cane, indicating that Norman has gained entry to the home. Jack knows there is an intruder, and he accidentally knocks John out with a bat. Norman says "Home run, Jack", and chases Jack upstairs and out the bathroom window. Jack jumps for a branch in a nearby tree, and Norman pursues him. John has recovered, and yells from the window, warning the neo-Nazi to stay away from his son. Jack screams for his father. As Norman crawls toward him, Jack watches in horror as the man falls into his neighbor's yard and is attacked and killed by the neighbor's Doberman Pinschers. Soon after, Norman's parents move away and Dylan returns home. John gets his job back, but shows more comical horror films like Abbott and Costello.
One afternoon, the neighborhood children all appear and ask if John will play a monster game with them (something he was popular for doing with the kids). However, after his experiences with Norman, he tells the children he won't play monster game anymore. When they ask him why, John sees Dexter (one of the neighborhood children, who used to be part of Jack's group of friends). Dexter, who has a something of a side story in the movie and comes from a broken home with his grandparents, has now strayed from his friends after he had become acquainted with Norman. As John watches Dexter smoking a cigarette, realizing he's going down a dark path. John looks to the children that there are real monsters out there, but he promises to play another better game with them.
In the end scene, Jack is playing his mother's favorite song at the piano and asks his still mute brother what it was. He doesn't appear to remember. Jack, then breaks down crying and tells John that "Nothing is all right." "Then we're going to make it all right." John answers, adding "Daddy's here" as he and his son embrace having reached their point. Dylan, then, comes over and answers "Jack the Bear." All three embrace emotionally.
The final scene fades as John watches his sons playing in the front yard.
- Danny DeVito as John Leary
- Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. as Jack Leary
- Miko Hughes as Dylan Leary
- Gary Sinise as Norman Strick
- Art LaFleur as Mr. Festinger
- Carl Gabriel Yorke as Gordon Layton
- Stefan Gierasch as Father-in-Law
- Andrea Marcovicci as Elizabeth Leary
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Peggy Etinger
- Reese Witherspoon as Karen Morris
- Lee Garlington as Mrs. Festinger
- Justin Mosley Spink as Dexter
Awards and nominations
- 1994 Young Artist Awards
- Won – Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Actress: Reese Witherspoon
- Nominated – Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Actor: Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.
- Nominated – Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actor 10 or Younger: Miko Hughes
- Jack the Bear at the Internet Movie Database
- Jack the Bear at allmovie
- Jack the Bear at Box Office Mojo
- Jack the Bear at Rotten Tomatoes