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Teddy Bears' Picnic is a 2002 American comedy film written and directed by Harry Shearer. It was released in May 2002 to limited audiences. Shearer has a small role in the film. It is also Kenneth Mars' last film before his death.[3]

Teddy Bears' Picnic
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHarry Shearer
Produced byMarc Ambrose
Written byHarry Shearer
Starringsee below
CinematographyJamie Reynoso
Edited byJeffrey Ford
Century of Progress Productions
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release date
  • March 29, 2002 (2002-03-29)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$280,149[2]



Teddy Bears' Picnic covers an annual encampment of prominent male leaders at the Zambezi Glen, a thinly veiled reference to the Bohemian Grove.

The film starts out with the first ever women's day at the glen, where wives and girlfriends of Zambezi members are invited to visit the glen ahead of the annual encampment, which also serves to introduce the glen and the characters to the audience. The actual retreat itself begins after the members have returned without any women and kicks off with the "Assassination of Time", based on the real Cremation of Care at the Bohemian Grove, with a pelican replacing the latter's owl. After that, the festivities begin, including an all-male chorus line in drag, which is photographed by one of the club employees who smuggles out the pictures to the news media.

This violation of the privacy of the glen causes the leaders of the membership to work on spin control, while the employee who took the pictures is emboldened by his success and the promise of a hefty reward to record footage of the glen with a camera smuggled in with the help of a local newscaster. In this time we also see what members do to enjoy themselves at the retreat, including drinking, urinating on trees while naked, and visiting nearby prostitutes.

After filming some of the activities at the glen, the cameraman is spotted by some members and flees into the woods. From here, the members invoke their privilege and connections, with disastrous results. The members call in the military to track down the cameraman with dogs, flares, and helicopters, which sets off a forest fire. When the road out of the glen is blocked by an overturned truck filled with drinks for the glen members, one of the characters orders his chauffeur to drive through anyway, making the blockage worse. A helicopter flying without lights at night at the behest of one of the members collides with a news helicopter covering the fire.



Harry Shearer wrote, directed, and executive-directed the film.[4] He hired old friends and colleagues (Michael McKean, Howard Hesseman, and Fred Willard) and younger performers (Annabelle Gurwitch as a camp follower and Justin Kirk as a disgruntled part-time employee who tries to smuggle videotape of the glen's strange rites to a local television station). He paid everyone "low-budget scale," Shearer said.[1]

The film was shot in less than three weeks, at a cost of $800,000.[1] Shearer funded the film; he said that the money came from the Fox Broadcasting Company, for his voiceover work on The Simpsons: "That's why there's a 'Thank You' to Rupert Murdoch at the end of the credits – it's his money, he just doesn't know it. It just kind of flowed through me."[5]

The film was shot using high-definition video equipment.[1] Cinematographer Jaime Reynoso shot the film; post-production work was done by Visionbox Pictures.[6]


The film was screened at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in February 2001,[7] the USA Film Festival in April 2001[8] and at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November 2001.[9] It had a limited released to theaters in March 2002.[4]

Critical receptionEdit

The film currently has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[10] On Metacritic, the film carries a 32/100 rating, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[11]


  1. ^ a b c d Any Meisler (March 31, 2002). "What Fools Fat Cats Can Be". New York Times.
  2. ^ Teddy Bears' Picnic at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Dave Kehr (March 29, 2002). "'Teddy Bears' Picnic'". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Dimitra Kessenides (March 29, 2002). "Harry Shearer". Salon. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  5. ^ Scott B. (2002-03-26). "An Interview with Harry Shearer". IGN.
  6. ^ "Shooting Digital Cinema". Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  7. ^ Stewart Oksenhorn (December 13, 2002). "Locals Pass on sale for Comedy Festival". Aspen Times.
  8. ^ "Hot Tips". Dallas Morning News. April 30, 2001.
  9. ^ "St. Louis International Film Festival Schedule". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 16, 2001.
  10. ^ "Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002)". Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  11. ^ Teddy Bears' Picnic at Metacritic

External linksEdit