A Bear for Punishment

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 13, 2015

The alarm clocks, and how they all play out. Junyer reads comics and then gets punched in the face by his dad. Abuse lurks at the margins of this one, or rather makes its way right into the smack-dab centre. Abuse, and/or the possibility that some families—some kids!—are so maddening that popping them is all that’s left to a guy. That breakfast in bed goes kind of poorly. May I discreetly make a reference to Ma’s comical breasts?

Junyer is a juggernaut! Stan Freberg, who gave him voice, could strain or cloy. But this outing is just triumphant, and on par with anything Mel Blanc ever contributed. The same goes for Ms. Benaderet. The shaving sequence! The direction, the setting of pace and the spatial distribution, are just exemplary. Ma is sturdy in the foreground, while Pa and Junyer cross every which way in the mid and back. “Pa won’t talk to me. I nudged him and nudged him.”

“But I don’t want to read a good book in front of a nice open fire, all nice and cozy!” The Fathers’ Day poem, text and performance, is for the ages. (Notice the tack piano.) But not as much as Ma’s Father’s Day dance, in which her dullard facial expression, her monotonous voice and slovenly-despairing hausfrau get-up are in Eisensteinian conflict with that show-stopping trooper choreography. And then there’s the finale! Dipped in flour. Who are they looking at, or singing to? Some of these films are so good that they enter into the realms of quantum physics. And I don’t even know what that means! Anyway, the top of the skull just pops up into the air with glee and gratitude.