What Would Bear Do? (2013) – Joshua Samford

It is relatively easy to understand why Bear Grylls, the star of Man vs. Wild, developed the following here in The United States that he did after his show hit the air. He is a charismatic and charming gentleman who, despite having tons of survival training, made it easy for his audience to relate to him. It just so happens that he also made his name by demonstrating the most insane of last-ditch efforts that a human being would do in order to maintain survival. He used these outrageous ideas, such as absorbing water from the feces of animals and drinking his own urine, in a way that made them seem like they were go-to efforts when lost in the woods. This gave him a cult following and led to a great deal of success. However, the fact that many segments on the show were staged also led to some backlash and a few apologies. After this happened, the show moved away from its original format which presented Bear as being forced to find his way back towards civilization, and instead turned the show into a series of skits revolving around survival techniques. So, why discuss Bear Grylls so much during the intro for this movie? Because this film owes more than a little to the British adventurer. What Would Bear Do? is a movie that courts a bit of controversy in the fact that so much of it hinges upon the prospect of a Bear Grylls-esque character becoming the infatuation of our leads. While the movie never comes right out and says that our two main protagonists are huge Bear Grylls fans, the allusions are far too heavy to miss.

In this rather silly comedy, we watch what happens when two goofball slackers, Taylor (played by Avery Pearson) and Vaughn (played by Josh Folan), head out into the woods in order to "man up" and live off of the land in the same way that their favorite television survivalist, a former British special forces member known as Bear, does. This all begins with the debut of Bear’s latest season and a special contest that is mentioned on the show. It appears that Bear is accepting videos from other would-be survivalists, and the best video contributed lands the winner(s) a spot on the show, along with fifty thousand dollars. So, the boys are all about testing their manhood, but along the way their girlfriends get dragged into the situation as well. Soon, all four of these twenty-somethings are stranded in the woods with very little protection, and it turns out that surviving in the wilderness is not as easy as Bear makes it seem.

The first thing that catches your eye about What Would Bear Do? has to be the level of acting on showcase. Indeed, the actors and actresses compiled for this project are far better than one might normally expect from such a low budget comedy. Even if some of the characters never manage to come across as particularly lovable, the actors still remain very convincing, and you can not say that there isn’t honest conviction in what the performers are trying to get across. Unfortunately, some of the dialogue ranges from decent to relatively poor. Many of the characters are cliche-ridden, and the dialogue reflects this. There are many elements taken from numerous films throughout the years. The girlfriends who are mad at their idiotic boyfriends seem as if they could have been cloned from Dude Where’s My Car?, and those characters from Dude Where’s My Car? seem as if they could have been ripped from any other dozen movies. The main characters are outlandish and over-the-top on a level that doesn’t exactly endear them to the audience. The characters of Taylor and Vaughn both appear to be well into their twenties, but they still act like the most flagrantly obvious frat boys that any audience member could picture, but the movie seems unaware of this. The characters are obviously supposed to be humorous, but instead they come off as crude and ugly. They are filled with anger, stupidity, and various phrases such as "totes" and "bro." As the movie progresses, the audience may very well come around on these two, but it takes a bit of struggling to enjoy these Dumb & Dumber-esque dude-bros.

Although the movie relies on numerous cliches and older material, the general chemistry between all of the main cast members is very present. This type of movie doesn’t exactly require a great range in terms of performances, but the main cast do well in giving some authenticity through their sheer determination. Even if the plot and script seem terribly improvised at times, most of the time the film does not give off an amateurish impression. The actors are all very devoted to their roles, despite these characters being rather childish in their approach to the world. This is ultimately what makes the movie. The chemistry of those involved and how they deal with one another gives the movie a sense of warmth that the actual characters do not. While the situations they find themselves in might seem a bit silly and hard to take, there’s still a certain level of entertainment to be derived from talented actors trying their best to bring characters to life. If you’re interested in reading more about the movie, you can visit the official site at: http://www.whatwouldbeardofilm.com