Infinitely Polar Bear: An Insult to the Sundance Film Festival

January 29, 2014 : 8:02 pm | by Connor Heckler

Infinitely Polar Bear is the appropriately terribly named movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past week. It is, and I say this with great conviction, absolutely awful. It is the worst film I’ve seen since M.Night Shamalamadingdong’s The Happening. In fact, those two films share so much that I wonder if director Maya Forbes used it as her main inspiration. Both pieces of media (“film” would be ruined as a word if used in discussion of either of these works and “movie” gives both too much credit) have stupid titles, bad acting, bad directing, bad writing, and if both had a shot of a liquor bottle in them then advertising executives would congratulate the directors on getting every viewer to drink more. More of everything, from cheap vodka to the tequilla in the back of your parents liquor cabinet to the blue stuff in the garage. Anything.

The film shares more with the terrible M.Night Shamarambam film. Both leads, Mark Ruffalo in this case and Mark Ruffalo in the case of The Happening, semi-good actors that are so god awful in their disrespective films you wonder if it could actually be them or the director. Surely, no actor would do so poorly as these two to have purposely. Ruffalo’s portrayal of a father diagnosed with bipolar disorder is terrible. It’s the moments when the bipolar disorder is supposed to show itself that Ruffalo’s acting becomes even worse. One particularly embarassing moment is when Ruffalo goes for a bike ride in nothing but a red pair of shorts and matching red headband. This is a scene that is supposed to establish Ruffalo’s character, Cameron, a father of two, having bipolar disorder.

This is supposed to be further cemented by Cameron’s total inability to accept adult responsibility in the taking care of his children. Cameron gets fired from work and, because this is absolutely what someone with bipolar disorder would do, takes his children out of school so they can share in his freedom.

The entire point of these scenes is to portray bipolar disorder as a lot of funsy tics and quirks. To portray bipolar disorder as a cutesy disease that means Cameron’s kids are allowed have ice cream for breakfast!

First off, that’s not only wrong, it’s insulting. What Cameron does is not quirky or cute, in fact in many cases it’s wrong. Morally and ethically wrong. Taking your kids out of school without reason is not the trait of the bipolar sufferer. It is the trait of a psychopath. It’s this total inability to differentiate problems with manic-depression and complete lunacy that makes Infinitely Polar Bear so insulting.

Perhaps it would have been better to have used an actor that has bipolar disorder for Cameron’s role or to even have someone who had bipolar disorder on the cast. I asked Maya during a Q&A why she didn’t and she said “I really wanted to, but I couldn’t find any actors with bipolar I wanted to take these roles.” Yes, because Stephen Fry, Russel Brand, Jeremy Brett, Rosemary Clooney, Maurice Bernard, and Carrie Fisher (to only name a few) are just not good enough for the director of such greats as Monsters vs. Aliens and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days of Summer.

I have nothing good to say about this film. Consider it heckled.


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