“Unedited Footage of a Bear” & The Year of the Doppelgänger

bear

After posting a too-long article trying to make sense out of last year’s surge of doppelgänger movies earlier this week, someone pointed out to me that I missed a major one: “Unedited Footage of a Bear”. “Unedited Footage” is a horror/comedy short from the same Adult Swim Infomercials program that produced the 2014-defining “Too Many Cooks”. (Did I get that song stuck in your head again? I am so sorry.) Where “Cooks” deconstructed an impressive range of television formats and worked them into a singular slasher film, “Unedited Footage” did the same with a much narrower genre: allergy medicine commercials. Using the fine print listed side effects of medication commercials & the intense artificiality of advertising in general to its disturbing advantage, “Unedited Footage” tells a tight, effective horror story in its fleeting ten minutes. A horror story that hinges on 2014’s biggest pet obsession: doppelgängers.

Although it plays on the popular doppelgänger obsession of last year’s features, “Unedited Footage of a Bear” isn’t a feature film itself. It isn’t even unedited footage of a bear. The entire doppelgänger/slasher storyline is framed as a tangent that distracts from the titular bear, but since it eats up all but 30sec of the runtime & the film never returns to the bear, the doppelgänger plot is the bulk of the film in every sense. Although it acts as the initial framing device, the bear is the tangent. The doppelgänger is the heart.

Despite the arrival of “Unedited Footage” at the December finish line & its depiction of a doppelgänger murder story, it’s hard for me to justify an addendum including it on that 2014 list. My intention with the “2014’s Doppelgänger Movies & Their Unlikely Doubles” article was to make sense of last year’s varied approaches to that genre by finding those film’s own doppelgängers in other seemingly unrelated movies. Besides the fact that I honestly forgot about “Unedited Footage” at the time, the problem with including it there is that I can’t think of its own double. I can’t think of another film that allows a single tangent to dominate the narrative in that way. (The only one that really comes to mind is that extended dream sequence towards the end of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion where Lisa Kudrow’s Michele is sleeping in the passenger seat of a convertible, but believes she has gone into the reunion, expertly schmoozed her old classmates by convincing them that she invented the glue on the back of Post-it notes, fails to drag Mira Sorvino’s Romy away from a make-out session, gets hit by a limo, starts her own make-out session in that limo, loses her blouse, accepts an award in her bra, and grows old & wealthy still disconnected from her best friend before she finally wakes to discover it was all just a dream and she hasn’t even left the car. But that doesn’t even come close, really, because that dream only dominates a few minutes of the movie, which soldiers on after it concludes, the same way this article will soldier on after this tangent concludes. Also, I just saw Romy & Michele for the first time a couple nights ago so that’s totally why it’s fresh in my mind.)

2014 saw an unusual excess of new entries for the doppelgänger genre. The idiosyncratic “Unedited Footage of a Bear” deserves to be remembered among them, if not only because any film featuring an original score & brief cameo by Dan Deacon deserves to be remembered. It’s just unclear to me what the movie’s own doppelgänger in this world is, but I’m sure it’s out there, waiting to murder it. (Unless it actually is Romy & Michele, in which case it’ll most likely take it shopping or force-feed it junk food or make it watch Pretty Woman, like, 36 times, which is its own form of death.) Oh, it’s out there.

-Brandon Ledet

5 thoughts on ““Unedited Footage of a Bear” & The Year of the Doppelgänger

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