Jack the Bear (1993)
Starring: Danny DeVito, Gary Sinise, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Miko Hughes
Director: Marshall Herskovitz
Tomatometer reading: 29%
Why it's better than it looks: Just to get this out of the way, there's a movie within the movie of Jack the Bear that has something to do with Gary Sinise as a Nazi neighbor kidnapping Danny DeVito's kid, attacking his older son, and getting eaten alive by feral dogs. But look past that, and Jack the Bear’s a warm and detailed period piece that portrays an eccentric middle-class Oakland in the early 1970s. And DeVito, as well as Robert Steinmiller and Miko Hughes as his boys, are all terrific, and you root for their family even as the narrative closes with some pat, TV-movie-of-the-week schmaltz. Dread and drama muddy Jack the Bear somewhat, but director/thirtysomething creator Herskovitz and writer/The Night Of scribe Steven Zaillian manage an authentic slice of life despite their bananas third act.
Where to see it: STARZ, ENCORE Play