Monday, May 27, 2013

Teddy Bears (SIFF 2013) - Movie Review

Teddy Bears is a movie written, produced, and directed, by Thomas Beatty (along with co-director Rebecca Fishman) and features a relatively unknown cast including David Krumholtz, Melanie Lynskey, and Ahna O'Reilly as well as Beatty's own father, Ned Beatty. This is more than your standard tale of love between long time friends as the concept is taken to the extreme when one member of a vacationing group proposes an orgy to help him get through a personal crisis.

Andrew (Krumholtz) has decided to invite his closest friends on a week long retreat at a desert rental house where he hopes they will join him in a sexual experience that he believes will cleanse his heart which has been broken since the recent passing of his mother. After the group has had ample time to settle in and get comfortable in their surroundings, he proposes his idea which is met with immediate skepticism and the group assumes he is playing a joke.

After convincing them that his intentions are true, the two couples who are his long time friends begin to struggle with the thought of what has been asked of them and even Andrew's own girlfriend (Lynskey) is convinced that he just needs therapy to get him past this troubling time. Undaunted, he attempts to chip away at their unwillingness to participate as he truly believes this is the best thing for him. While his buddies are convinced he is just trying to sleep with their girlfriends, the ladies themselves actually begin to entertain the thought which opens the door to many an emotional struggle between all everyone involved.

What starts off as a topic played brilliantly and almost singularly for laughs, actually turns into a very heartfelt and at times gut wrenching emotional rollercoaster as each of the six friends goes through personal struggles as well as dealing with issues they have harbored towards each other. Beatty's screenplay is brilliant in how it gives equal thought to each character and intertwines their connections on such an intimate level, you feel you are part of the group and interacting with them and what they are going through.

The cast does a serviceable job with their roles, but its really the material they are given and the direction they follow that makes what, at first glance, seems like a silly no brainer comedy into something truly original that packs way more emotion into its 90 minute run time than you might ever expect to find. What I really enjoyed most was Andrew's journey as his struggle clearly has an effect on everyone else and his blind devotion to his absurd idea gives him a clarity and purpose that none of the others can admit to having.

When you first sit down to watch Teddy Bears, you may start to wonder what you have just set yourself up for, but by the end, you will be so glad you took the time to get to know these people as the hour and half you have with them is nearly as valuable as the week they spend together. Congratulations to Thomas Beatty for creating a truly original piece of work that I can only hope people will take the time to experience.

Teddy Bears will have its world premiere screening on June 1st at 9:30pm during the Seattle International Film Festival and will show again on June 2nd at 3:30pm, both at the Uptown Theater in Seattle. Select cast and crew members will be in attendance for the premiere screening. More information including ticket sales can be found HERE.

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