SUMMARY: Baby Bear atttempts to show his Pa how much he loves him with an elaborate and humiliating Father’s Day display.
WHY IT’S HERE: The lesser discussed by largely hilarious Three Bears series directed by Chuck Jones drew to a close in monumentally funny style with ‘A Bear for Punishment’. A very simple premise makes for an hysterical cartoon. It’s Father’s Day and a reluctant Papa Bear must sit through his family’s attempts to honour him in more and more violent or humiliating ways. This culminates in a ridiculous variety show which climaxes with a bizarre tableau in which the Three Bears assume the roles of Washington, Lincoln and the Statue of Liberty. As well as the ample laughs, ‘A Bear for Punishment’ also offers a slightly tragic angle as we witness the Baby Bear’s unconditional love for his Pop contrasting with Papa Bear’s genuine violent contempt for his son. As well as being a triumph of timing and an ability to draw riotous comedy out of an essentially plotless cartoon, ‘A Bear for Punishment’ is especially notable as a performance piece, with voice artists Billy Bletcher, Bea Benederet and Stan Freberg giving the most remarkable performances they ever gave as these characters. ‘A Bear for Punishment’ is a fittingly uproarious finale to an under appreciated series.