Infinitely Polar Bear (2013)

Cast includes: Zoe Saldana (Avatar), Mark Ruffalo (Now You See Me), Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide (Unforgettable)
Writer/Director: Maya Forbes (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days)
Genre: Comedy | Light Drama (90 minutes)

Huffington Post

1967… Cameron Stuart was diagnosed as manic-depressive, and Maggie married him anyway… “Times were crazy… everyone was going bananas.” 1978… No school today for Amelia and Faith. “We’re celebrating… I got fired (again),” says Cameron. “Does Mom know you got fired?” the girls ask. It’s a downward spiral, Dad has a breakdown and Mom decides, “Bohemia is over.” While Dad’s in the hospital, Mom moves the girls to a low-rent apartment that the feels “like a prison.” “Why can’t Daddy live here with us?” “He’s a way better cook than you.” When Amelia meets Dad at the halfway house, she tells him, “I think if you stop drinking and take your lithium, then Mommy would let you come home.”

In the meantime, neighborhood kids point out that Amelia and Faith should really be going to Lincoln (the worst school in Boston), not Peabody (the best). The bottom line is that Mom lied to get the girls into Peabody because they can’t afford to live in the Peabody neighborhood and Mom wants them in a good school. So it comes as quite a surprise when the girls learn that Daddy actually comes from one of Boston’s most blueblood families. “Your great great-grandfather was once the richest man in Boston…. We don’t get along,” Dad says. When the girls eventually get kicked out of Peabody and have to go to Lincoln, Maggie decides to go back to school for her MBA so she can get a better job. Cameron appeals to his grandmother to pay for private school, but it’s a non-starter… “Won’t send a good message… will it?” Maggie gets a scholarship to Columbia in New York, but the only way that’s going to work is if Dad steps up to the plate as a parent because no one wants to move to New York for 18 months. “Me?” It’s a truly preposterous idea.

We follow the Stuarts for several years… both the progress and setbacks. Cameron can never seem to avoid embarrassing the girls, but “We know Dad’s a good person.” Infinitely Polar Bear sets a high bar for itself… showing us family life with a bi-polar parent. It’s an interesting premise with some enjoyable moments, but it falls short again and again. The family dynamics may have some moments that feel authentic, but on balance, it’s more fantasy than reality. Although he story has elements that look like they’re going to develop into something, most don’t go anywhere. After one of Dad’s setbacks, he says, “We lost some momentum, but we’ll get it back.” They never really do.

popcorn rating

1 popped kernels

Family life with a bi-polar dad

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism 
Nutshell: Bi-polar parent
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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