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Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002)

Cast: Henry Gibson, Henry Gibson, Ming-Na Wen, more...
Director: Harry Shearer, Harry Shearer
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Velocity Home Entertainment
Genre: Comedies, Political Satire, Mockumentary, Mockumentaries
Running Time: 80 min.
    see additional details...

Actor and comedian Harry Shearer makes his directorial debut with this mock documentary about the slightly sordid pastimes of some of America's wealthiest and most powerful men. Zambesi Glen is a private resort in Northern California whose highly exclusive membership rolls includes high-echelon politicians, leaders of America's military, owners of the nation's biggest corporations, renowned and respected political thinkers, and a handful of celebrity guests; the club's membership is overwhelmingly white and exclusively male. Once a year, Zambesi Glen holds a week-long retreat for its members, and while this gathering features the occasional group discussion of political and economic issues, most of the week is devoted to swilling booze, staging comic skits, performing odd rituals not out of place at a Boy Scout camp, doing business with the prostitutes imported for the festivities, and generally carousing like frat boys on a bender. However, not all is well in this playground for the power elite; feminist groups are protesting Zambesi Glen's "men only" membership policy, and far more embarrassing, a television reporter has found a way to smuggle cameras into the well-guarded resort, giving the world a less than flattering look at what America's leadership likes to do for a good time. The revelers at Zambesi Glen are played by a top-shelf comic cast, including Michael McKean, George Wendt, Henry Gibson, Kenneth Mars, Fred Willard, Howard Hessman, and Bob Einstein; among the female interlopers are Morgan Fairchild, Joyce Hyser, and Ming-Na. Teddy Bears' Picnic was inspired by Harry Shearer's visit as a guest to Bohemian Grove, the real-life men's-only retreat whose members are said to include George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Malcolm Forbes, David Rockefeller, Casper W. Weinberger, and William F. Buckley, though the film's opening credits humorously disavows any resemblance between Zambesi Glen and Bohemian Grove. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Disappointing by SFeldman May 4, 2004 - 1:46 PM PDT
What a great cast! What a waste! There are a few good laughs but the movie does not really score. And speaking of score, the loud intrusive classical music score detracts rather than adds.

Yeah, it's a big disappointment by RHorsman April 30, 2004 - 12:09 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Excellent cast, interesting idea, (usually) great writer: somehow it all adds up to an unwatchable waste.

Limp comedy, shoddy filmmaking by cjereneta March 1, 2004 - 6:16 AM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Harry Shearer wastes a remarkable cast in this sadly tepid effort. As in his weekly radio show, Shearer creates an array of subtly preposterous characters who can pass as normal in society at large. As in his radio show, the jokes are thus often buried so deeply that one must listen quite closely to realize that they are jokes at all. Shearer keeps a tight rein on the performers, allowing no one to be outsized, which might have worked with a better script. Fred Willard, so broadly brilliant in WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, BEST IN SHOW, and A MIGHTY WIND, barely registers here as a Rhode Island senator and former pro football player. Kenneth Mars, too, disappears into the background. Only John "J. Pederman" O'Hurley (as a local news anchor) and Alan Thicke (playing himself) make an impression.

Worse yet, the camerawork and editing seem like something out of a first year at film school. Shearer doesn't help himself out when he adds plot elements he can't afford--car crashes, a forest fire, and a midair helicopter collision--and forces himself to work around them.

If the prospect of merely seeing Henry Gibson, Kurtwood Smith, and George Wendt dressed up in Can-Can dancing girl costumes appeals to you, go ahead and rent this. If you'd rather that they were doing or saying something--anything--funny while wearing those costumes, you can go ahead and let this one go.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 3.05)
19 Votes
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