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Jack the Bear (1993)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  2 April 1993 (USA)
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Danny De Vito is a professional clown, whose wife's death in a car accident has left him to care for his two young boys. Loving, but useless at the daily job of fathering, the onus falls on... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Leary
Norman Strick
Mr. Festinger
Erica Yohn ...
Elizabeth Leary
Carl Gabriel Yorke ...
Gordon Layton
Mrs. Festinger
Lorinne Vozoff ...
Mrs. Mitchell
Justin Mosley Spink ...
Dexter Mitchell


Danny De Vito is a professional clown, whose wife's death in a car accident has left him to care for his two young boys. Loving, but useless at the daily job of fathering, the onus falls on plucky Jack the Bear (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.). De Vito's conscience, and a quantity of alcohol leads him to denounce a neo-fascist candidate on his children's TV programme - and also to the kidnapping of youngest son Dylan (Miko Hughes) by a disturbed neo-nazi supporter. Written by David Holmes <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for elements of theme, and for some terror | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 April 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pequeño papá  »

Box Office


$5,145,462 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 1992, Danny DeVito had played The Penguin in Batman Returns (1992), and Gary Sinise had played George in Of Mice and Men (1992). Both roles were previously played by Burgess Meredith. See more »


At the end when Jack is playing the piano, Dylan comes downstairs and starts walking towards him. In the next shot, Dylan is back at the stairs again. See more »


[first lines]
Jack Leary: I thought I knew all about monsters. I used to watch them late at night on Dad's TV show. After we moved to Oakland, he stopped doing kid's shows, because he was different now. Everything was different. Now he was Al Gory, monster of ceremonies at Midnight Shriek.
See more »


Features Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) See more »


Teenage Nervous Breakdown
Written by Lowell George
Performed by Little Feat
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
by arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Another revealing look at growing up
16 September 2002 | by (Dundee, Scotland) – See all my reviews

'Jack the Bear' is drama set in the Seventies revolving around Leary family and their first summer since the loss of their wife and mother. John hosts a late-night horror show and, while he has an understanding of television, he struggles to be a proper father to his sons, thirteen-year-old Jack and four-year-old Dylan. Instead Jack is left to be a substitute parent to his young brother while not only going through adolescence but is also struggling with the recent loss of his mother.

This film is a much darker version of the subjects brought up in 'My Girl' with the lead here being a boy instead of a girl. It was quite interesting to see a boy (instead of a girl who is usually cast in such movies) cope with the loss and guilt over his mother's death, shouldering the responsibility of caring for his little brother and alcoholic father and learning the lessons of his first love.

One of the main themes of the film is coming-of-age, both for Jack and his father. John is relearning how to be a parent without his partner by his side and redefining his relationship with his boys. As for Jack, as a boy of thirteen, he is starting to see life through an adult's eyes as he lets go of childhood innocence. One of the harshest lessons of the adultworld he learns, is that not all monsters are ugly things who live in the closet and humans can be evil too when his younger brother kidnapped by a Nazi neighbour who harbours a grudge against his father and a young lad in his neighbourhood develops some Nazi traits when he turns to the wrong person for a role model.

This films is really enjoyable, both with cute moments (Jack's little brother is adorable) and darker, angstier times. Definitely worth a look.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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