Jack the Bear (1993)

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Released 20-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 94:38
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Marshall Herskovitz
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Danny DeVito
Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.
Miko Hughes
Gary Sinise
Art LaFleur
Stefan Gierasch
Erica Yohn
Andrea Marcovicci
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Reese Witherspoon
Bert Remsen
Carl Gabriel Yorke
Lee Garlington
Case ?
RPI $22.95 Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Danny DeVito is perhaps best renowned for his comedic performances in movies like Twins and Throw Momma from the Train. Jack the Bear is a serious drama that gives us the the opportunity to witness a first class performance from Danny DeVito, though his character still allows him to act the clown.

    John Leary (Danny DeVito) has been a professional clown all his life. He used to host a children's program but now he hosts the late night horror movies, in a similar fashion to Elvira - Mistress of the Dark. John enjoys acting like a clown so much so that he brings his role home, much to the delight of his two young sons, Jack (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) and Dylan (Miko Hughes), not to mention the other neighbourhood children.

    John's wife, Elizabeth (Andrea Marcovicci), was recently killed in a car accident leaving him to raise his sons as best he can, whilst maintaining his late night work routine. John's drinking habits, which are his way of dealing with the loss of his wife, only make matters worse as Elizabeth's parents endeavour to take custody of the boys. At 12 years of age, Jack is the elder of the two boys and it is evident that he is under a great deal of stress. At the same time as he is trying to cope with his mother's death he must deal with the added burden of minding Dylan, who is only three years old.

    Their neighbourhood is filled with dysfunctional families, each with their own problems; Dexter Mitchell (Justin Mosley Spink) lives with his grandparents following the separation of his mother and father, Edward Festinger (Troy Slaten) is retarded and is always being yelled at by his father (Art LaFleur), and then there is the creepy Norman Strick (Gary Sinise). Norman's legs were crushed in a car accident as a result of his drink driving and he now walks with the aid of a walking stick.

    This really is a movie of two halves. The first half establishes the characters in a convincing fashion that, despite their obvious problems, leaves you wondering where the story is headed. The second half revolves around the movie's villain and the impact he has on the Learys. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Things take a turn for the worse after Norman reveals his racist nature. In addition to dressing Dexter in a Nazi uniform for Halloween, he starts campaigning against "The niggers and the Jews" in the neighbourhood. When Norman's dog, Cheyenne, is found dead on the Leary's front lawn they find themselves targeted by a psychopath.

    Jack the Bear is a wonderful movie with many subplots. You don't really know where the story is headed until you arrive there.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp with good shadow detail. There is no low level noise.

    The colour palette sits firmly in the middle ground - it is neither excessively subdued nor overly bright. Skin tones look natural.

    The transfer is very clean and free from MPEG artefacts and grain. While some telecine wobble is evident during the opening credits I did not notice any aliasing throughout the movie. To be picky, there is the occasional film artefact, but they are small and fleeting in nature. For example, some white specks can be viewed during the scene with John sitting on the veranda at 71:27.

    The only available subtitle stream is English for the Hearing Impaired. Apart from being well placed and easy to read, the subtitles accurately reflect the spoken word and contain the appropriate amount of descriptive text for the hearing impaired.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 48:08. The layer change was noticeable but not overly distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is very good, although despite being credited as a 5.1 soundtrack, the front sound stage dominates.

    There is just the one audio track available on this disc and that is English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. I did not notice any audio sync problems with this movie.

    The musical score by James Horner is supplemented by a number of songs including Gimme Some Lovin by Spencer Davis Group, Today by Jefferson Airplane, Dream Lover by Rick Nelson, and many more.

    This is a dialogue driven movie so the surround channels don't have a great deal to do. This doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie - just don't expect the sound to be coming at you from all directions. The one time the surround channels are utilised is when the songs mentioned above are playing.

    The subwoofer supports the soundtrack when needed but, like the surround channels, it is used sparingly. Once again, this doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Apart from a Theatrical Trailer there are no extras.

Menu

    The menu follows the usual anti-piracy ads, which can be skipped through. The menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. It is not animated and there is no supporting audio.

Theatrical Trailer (2:07)

    The Theatrical Trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, and it is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. Telecine wobble and some film artefacts are evident.

Web Links

    A simple text page that encourages you to log on to www.foxmovies.com.au.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Both versions are equally good unless you particularly want the Full Frame version of the movie, or Spanish is your preferred language.

Summary

    Jack the Bear is a thoroughly enjoyable movie with believable characters that you really care for. It is well acted and contains many subplots that will have you wondering where the story is headed. All characters are well acted and I believe this has to be one of Danny DeVito's finest roles. It demonstrates what a fine actor he is. Highly recommended.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is very good.

    Apart from the Theatrical Trailer there are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Aaron Devereaux (read my bio)
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-533K, using Component output
DisplayInFocus Screenplay 7200 with ScreenTechnics 100" (16x9) screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to Amplifier. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC -A11SR
SpeakersJamo D6PEX wall mounted Speakers and Powered Sub (7.1)

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