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on 29 July 2005
The opening of Bear Cub shows two hairy over-weight men having sex with each other. The scene is sexually explicit and also quite tender, but most of all it shows that these men - who are so often marginalized in the wider gay community for not being attractive enough - can actually be sexual beings too. It's such a pleasure to watch a film that portrays the culture of these proudly paunchy gay men, who accept who and what they are and who refuse to buy into the chiseled gym ideal of what a gay man should be. Most of the middle-aged men in this wise, sophisticated, and sweet-natured Spanish film unashamedly believe they're sexy, and are for the most part, proud of it.
Pedro (José Luis García-Pérez) is an attractive and mature "bearish" dentist who lives a cosmopolitan life in Madrid. He's a well adjusted, kindly, and independent kind of guy, who thinks nothing of having his two best friends have sex in his bed while he takes a shower - maybe even participating in a threesome. His older sister Violeta (Elvira Lindo), a rubber-mouthed ex-hippie, leaves her son Bernardo (David Castillo) to stay with Pedro when she impulsively decides to take a two-week jaunt to India with her latest boyfriend.
Things don't work out exactly as planned for Violeta, so Pedro is left to become a temporary guardian of this world-wise and surprisingly cosmopolitan young boy. Bernardo is a hip, young urban sophisticate, totally in sync with Pedro and very aware and accepting of the fact that Pedro is gay, and even that he is HIV Positive.
Soon the two become totally enamored of each other forming a strong attachment. Their life together seems to be going well - Bernardo cooks for Pedro, and loves all his fellow bear friends. But when Doña Teresa (Empar Ferrer), Violeta's widowed, estranged mother-in-law, arrives on the scene, she begins to resent Pedro's closeness with the boy.
Dona Teresa is a lonely and embittered old woman who blames Violeta for her son's drug-related death. She's also eager to reestablish a bond with her grandson, who refuses to give her the time of day. She's concerned about the "influence" that Pedro may be having on the boy and wants to take over Bernardo's upbringing by sending him to a good private school in Valencia where he can learn English. The boy, however, is reluctant to leave his uncle and vows to keep his relationship with his Uncle intact.
Bear Club cleverly defies all expectations -with the director Miguel Albaladejo wisely never passing judgment on any of the characters - even on the manipulative Dona Teresa. And in keeping with the newly found openness of Spanish society there's absolutely no puritanical hand wringing about Pedro's supposed inappropriateness as a guardian and role model. In fact, Pedro goes out of his way to live his life as he would a single man: We see him going to bars, cruising back rooms, flirting with shop attendants in front of Bernardo, and even inviting his friends over for marijuana and coke-induced gatherings.
The film also cleverly explores Pedro's relationship with a flight attendant and part-time lover who seeks a full-time commitment that Pedro is unwilling to make. While throughout all of this Bernardo is either oblivious to most of what's going on, seems to take all in his stride, or at times even offers Pedro some sound romantic advice!
There's a lot of love, camaraderie, and laughter, especially amongst Pedro's lovable, big, burly "bears," and while the movie is occasionally over-talky and light on the drama, there's still a good deal of warmth, tenderness, and humor going on to satisfy most viewers. Bear Club is an important movie, but it's also quite groundbreaking, because for the first time, we are given an intelligent, thoughtful, and quite perceptive insight into a section of the gay community that has long been marginalized by the wider gay community; they're a sub-culture that is obviously flourishing, but until now, they have received little or no recognition in queer-themed film. Mike Leonard July 05.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 November 2011
This is a Spanish film from 2004 that I have taken a while to see, and I must say I found it worth the wait. It is billed as a comedy drama, but it is also sexually explicit in places and manages to wend its way into your heart, as I ruddy loved it.

It is the story of Pedro (Jose Luis Garcia Perez), who likes Bears, his family know and accept his predilection. His `forward thinking' sister is going on a fifteen day holiday to India to indulge her passion of holistic hippydom. Whilst she and her 'Significant Other' are away she asks her brother to look after his nephew `Bernardo' (David Castillo). No sooner has the little lad settled in than his estranged Grand Mother turns up seeking to be a part in her grand sons life (at all costs).

The story then starts to take a few turns which would be plot spoilers to reveal. There was some strong adult content from the start and interspersed throughout, which is why it has the certification. This is not a love story but a human one, and one of the nastier side of human nature as well, but it is all the more real for that. I found it to be totally engrossing and was hooked from about scene one, everyone puts in a brilliant performance and the time (95 mins) just flew by. I actually didn't want it to end I was that caught up in the stories.

It is in Spanish with some French and a smidgen of English, and be warned some of the exchanges are so fast you will need the subtitles, unless your Spanish is excellent.

Director and co-writer Miguel Abaladejo has produced a great little film about big, gay men, with big gay hearts and it is a such a joy to have a film that does not stick to the slavish adoration of all gay men having to be under twenty five and have spent at least twenty of them either in a gym or exfoliating their chests. If you like this then you should also check out `Boys Town'Boystown [2007] [DVD] another great Spanish gay themed film.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 June 2010
Probably the sweetest single gay film I've seen. This fish out of water story would have been turned into glossy, sappy glop by Hollywood, but the subtlety of writing and directing, the explicitness and acceptance of promiscuous, unglamorous gay men, and its general humor and humanity raise it well above it's slightly formulaic story.

An aging hippie mom brings her son to stay with her gay brother while she goes off to India with her new lover. While there she's thrown in prison on drug charges, and the man and boy slowly form a tender father/son like bond. Meanwhile the boy's estranged grandmother schemes to use this as a chance to force her way into the boy's life. While that might sound slight or familiar, the details, humanity and fine performances transcend to make something richer, funnier and deeper.
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on 19 December 2005
The film is a success on a conventional level regarding story, plot and characters and also is a treat for the gay community, above all the bear community.
The bears are portrayed as loving and friendly; 100% gay and also 100% masculine.
I would strongly recommend the film to any bear based solely on the bear-to-bear action in the first 45 seconds of the film.
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on 23 November 2009
Actually, I saw very few bears in 'Bear Cub'. The picture on the cover suggests a happy go lucky movie of comfortably overweight men having a good time. Big hairy men only featured in a party scene. It showed off male bonding to perfection. However, it was just an asset to a much deeper explored relationship. BC's main theme being 'single substitute parent raising a child', it portrays the initial insecurity and subsequent love of both parties involved. Pedro, dentist, single and gay, is lumbered with looking after his nephew Bernardo for a fortnight, while mum swans off to India. Mum is caught trafficking drugs and ends up in an Indian prison. It appears Bernardo is to stay on indefinitely at Pedro's. A parent-child relationship develops and it works out well. Untill nanna from hell steps in and has Bernardo evicted and sent to a boarding school. Eventually the two meet up again and resume their companionship. All's well that ends well.
The title, 'Bear Cub' struck me as it pinpoints exactly what this film is all about; a little bear! Pedro, a bear himself, tends to Bernardo by providing him with a loving and stable environment in which to grow up in. Both Pedro and Bernardo are content and comfortable with each other and their living arrangements. Pedro being gay, straight or whatever has nothing to do with the way he excersises the responsibility he took upon himself by stepping in as surrogate single dad. He does a tremendous job until jealousy, prejudice, and an attempt at blackmail by third parties put paid to Pedro's gentle and tender care. BC let me witness the joy and despair both men experienced in the various stages of their bond. Lead José Luis Garcin-Pérez is the perfect Pedro. If you're looking for light-hearted yet intelligent drama, this is for you. If you're after a cinematic romp with the big boys, steer clear.
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on 2 May 2015
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on 25 April 2008
Don't be deceived by the blurb, because this isn't a 'nice' gay film at all.
On the surface it appears frothy, but underneath it's a sleazy film of betrayal, deceit, and a mans lost love that he'll never get back.
It has it's funny moments, most of which you'll have seen on the trailer, but the rest is a gritty, rather sad little down-beat film that'll appeal to those who like it 'real'.

The Birdcage it most certainly ain't.
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