Jack the Bear

It's surely no insult to call this story about a small-time TV performer (Danny DeVito) with a drinking problem trying to raise two sons (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. and Miko Hughes) alone during the 60s a male tearjerker—especially when it's such an effective example of the genre, pointing to what seems like an authentic slice of lived experience. Adapted by Steven Zaillian (Awakenings) from the best-selling novel by Dan McCall, and directed as a first feature by Marshall Herskovitz, the cocreator of thirtysomething, this tragicomic fictionalized memoir has a small-scale earnestness and a feel for the period (enhanced by Fred Murphy's cinematography and many of the smaller acting roles) that are both uncommon nowadays. As an adaptation it's reportedly both reductive and sanitized, but at least some sincerity remains. With Gary Sinise, Art LaFleur, Stefan Gierasch, Erica Yohn, Reese Witherspoon, and Andrea Marcovicci.

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