Gay-themed movies in Hollywood tend to play up stereotypes of the gay community more often than not, such that they give off a feeling of ethnic tokenism reminiscent of the infamous minstrel plays of yore.
Release Date: 27 February 2004 (Spain)
Director: Miguel Albaladejo
Writer: Miguel Albaladejo, Salvador García Ruiz
Cast: José Luis García Pérez, David Castillo, Empar Ferrer
Gay-themed movies in Hollywood tend to play up stereotypes of the gay community more often than not, such that they give off a feeling of ethnic tokenism reminiscent of the infamous minstrel plays of yore. To be more specific, Hollywood executives have a hard time portraying homosexuals as persons instead of caricatures from people who don’t know any better of what a gay lifestyle entails. Enter Cachorro (a.k.a. Bear Club); a movie that shatters all the clichés and pigeonholes of mainstream cinema’s portrayal of gays. As a side note, “bear” as used in this context is actually a term used by gays to refer to large, gruff men with a lot of body hair. The film has actually had a successful run in quite a lot of film festivals since it was released way back in early 2004 in Spain.
The reception of audiences to this movie continues to be quite positive (especially considering its realistic and mature portrayal of homosexuality that’s unlike anything you’ll ever see released from Hollywood even in this day and age). In any case, the film starts with establishing the life and times of Pedro (as played Jose Luis Garcia Perez), a homosexual man with a large social circle and an active social life, as he takes in his nine-year-old nephew, Bernardo (as played by David Castillo), under his wing for a couple of weeks. This event allows the viewer to explore the kind of life that Pedro leads, especially when it appears that Bernardo may have to stay with him permanently. They soon embark on a slice-of-life journey towards building a household together.
Before people wave off this movie’s premise as merely a gay version of “Three Men and a Baby”, they need to first realize that this film is able to stand out from the “Unexpected Fatherhood” type of movie by being uncompromising with its depiction of Pedro’s social life—particularly the infamous and somewhat controversial opening scene that have edited out of U.S. release and is only available in the film festival version of the film. Edited scenes or not, the decision of director/co-writer Miguel Abaladejo and co-writer Salvador Garcia Ruiz to give the gay “bear” subculture a realistic take in their film has provided the film with the gravitas it needs in order to give Pedro and his cohorts some well-deserved, three-dimensional characterizations.
Not only will this film help people open their minds and widen their horizons somewhat; the mere fact that Pedro and his friends shatter the Hollywood conventions of the gay lifestyle (i.e., husky and bearded gay men as opposed to the flamboyant and effeminate ones audiences are more familiar with) is a step in the right direction in bringing forth realistic and non-token gay characters in cinema in the future. The performances of both Perez and Castillo were very believable, such that their very quirks play vital roles in the film’s clever plot twists. This memorable movie has a good mix between drama and humor as well, but not to the point that the story feels like a bipolar between manic and depressive episodes. Instead, it portrays life’s ups and downs in an entertaining fashion that will keep you glued to your chair in rapt attention over believable characters.