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Film / Teddy Bear

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Miś, the 1981 movie by Stanisław Bareja that every Pole has seen (a lot...), and quoted (a whole lot) but can't explain to foreigners because it's just too much Mind Screw and culture-specific stuff.

We'll still try.

Ryszard "Miś" Ochucki is a manager of a sports club and a swindler on the side - his current embezzlement plan includes building a giant straw bear (Makes Just as Much Sense in Context). While at it, he learns his ex-wife, Irena, is planning to remarry and to withdraw the money from a foreign bank account they had together — the Divorce Assets Conflict going unresolved, it becomes the matter of who gets there first and takes it all.

So, Ochucki tries to go abroad with a sports team from his club, but at the border it turns out his passport has been torn. So he can't. And passports are, in his day and age, Serious Business, so he won't be able to just get a new one in time.

All is lost? You bet it isn't. Ochucki just needs a passport with his picture. It doesn't need to be in his name...

Although it features a giant straw bear, it should not be confused with the toy of the same name.

Teddy bear, tropes!:

  • Beleaguered Boss: The director of Hochwander's movie really tries not to lose his patience about disastrous casting, stolen props and a costumer who can't understand the script and dresses a man named "Pruski" ("prussian") in a prussian uniform, complete with a pickelhaube, despite it making no sense. He really tries.
  • Brainless Beauty: Aleksandra, as much as she tries to be cunning, bless her little dumb head.
  • Cardboard Pal: The traffic cops put three plywood houses by an otherwise uninteresting stretch of a road in order to catch people speeding. note 
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Part of why it's such a difficult movie to explain. Literally every scene that seems to make no sense later turns out to be a Chekhov's Gag.
  • Crapsack World: This is a Black Comedy precisely about how shitty the system is, how it screws over the few honest people left and encourages the dishonest ones to swindle their way to the top.
  • Complexity Addiction: The entire scheme of Ochucki to get new passport and withdraw the money from his foreign account involves about five times more steps than really needed, even after accounting for the complex Batman Gambits needed to secure cooperation of few key people.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Aleksandra gets Staszek to wash his hair with the Samson shampoo that makes you bald in a couple of hours by asking him to plunge her bathtub and unhooking the entire cosmetics shelf so it falls on his head. Which she then "blames" on Staszek.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • invoked Played for Laughs in the movie-within-the-movie that Hochwander is making - the "village children" are guys over fifty. The hare is played by a cat, too, so...note 
    • The "children" in the passport-giving ceremony are actually quite adult little people (and smoke like there's no tomorrow in their time off).
  • Do Wrong, Right: At one point, Ochucki starts chewing Hochwander out over his Stealing from the Till... only to explain that rather than shaving off a few pennies here and there, they can siphon far more money by acting fully legal, even overpaying for their project, because then they can sign a destruction certificate. And the more company money they pump into it, the more they will get out of it as their personal compensation for the damages.
  • El Spanish "-o": When moving his money from one foreign account to another (that Irena won't have the access to) Ochucki uses a bewildering mix of foreign words to try and talk to a London bank teller who turns out to speak Polish, with a Yiddish accent. At the post-office, he gets by with the bilingual shopgirl's help.
  • End-of-Episode Silliness: Inverted. The film ends in a solemn monologue about how you can't invent a tradition, traditions have to arise on their own or they aren't really traditions. It's such a Mood Whiplash that you feel hard-pressed to find it a part of a joke itself, yet appears to be there to explain one of the film's themes.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: What Hochwander thinks this is all about. Technically, it is, except Ochucki has no intention of splitting the money with him. Aleksandra thinks she's getting a role in a movie by Roman Polański if she and Ochucki can leave the country.
  • Gold Digger: Irena, Ochucki's ex-wife, is marrying a party official whose only selling points as a husband are the travelling opportunities and general luxury.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Aleksandra says this while covering Staszek (drunk out of his head and sleeping at the train station) with a jacket.
  • Gossipy Hens: The cleaning ladies who gossip in the club toilet (instead of cleaning it) and provide exposition.
  • Identical Stranger: Ochucki needs one to get a passport for him, so he recruits the help of Hochwander, who works in the movie industry. Eventually, the classifed is answered by Staszek, a coal-delivery guy, so similar to Ochucki Hochwander can't tell them apart (in case you haven't noticed, yes, they're played by the same guy). After Staszek goes bald (Makes Sense In Context) Ochucki shaves his head to keep the similarity.
  • Invented Individual: Ochucki's "aunt". The story he tells Hochwander (about why he needs an Identical Stranger) also features one - the "aunt", he claims, was told by his parents that they've had twins, so she'd sent twice as much money. And now she's coming to visit, so there has to be two of them...
  • Imagine Spot:
    • How Ochucki realises what Irena has done. Although the teller in an English bank speaking Polish doesn't make much sense. (When he goes to London for real, the post-office clerk speaks RP).
    • The last scene has a basketball player stepping out of the TV and Aleksandra getting into bed with Ochucki who inexplicably turns into a straw bear. This may be an Imagine Spot. Or not.
  • Market-Based Title: Technically, "miś" refers to any (toy) bear, teddy-bears included, but the bears in the movie are made of straw, so "Teddy Bear" is kind of misleading.
  • Mirror Routine: Ochucki opens the door and takes his doppelganger for a mirror salesman. Then he shuts the door in the guy's face.
    We already have a mirror.
  • Never My Fault: Everyone, especially Hochwander.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: After Ochucki succesfully seeds the doubt in her fiance about Irena having someone on the side, the fiance has an operative follow her, and that's how the operative "hides". Irena spots him instantly.
    Of course, he sent someone after me. Over there. Reading a newspaper, I mean, working.
  • Operation: Jealousy: By Aleksandra - to make sure Ochucki stays interested, she starts fooling around with Staszek, the Identical Stranger. He falls in love. Ochucki is a bit pissed. Note that Aleksandra had been Hochwander's girlfriend when he met her...
  • Phoney Call: One of Ochucki's favourite tricks. He actually has an employee make calls at preordained moments to pretend it's someone Very Important (or Roman Polański) with an Extremely Important Business (or social call to impress a certain young actress).
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Several in the club Ochucki's running. One of them even sings a song about how wonderful the boss is. They say what they really think of him after hours, though.
  • Scout-Out: The awfully helpful kid who corrects everyone, counts the people at the post office (Makes Sense In Context) and generally is nosey. He signs off with "Czuwaj!", like the real (or stereotypical) Polish scouts are supposed to.
  • Set Behind the Scenes: Partly, because the protagonist needs an Identical Stranger and his friend-in-the-business is just making a movie.
  • Show Within a Show: The kids' show "Wujek Dobra Rada" Ochucki idly watches while searching for inspiration. It's wonderfully glurgy (the particular episode being about the kid who swears a lot - using hilariously mild oaths that don't even qualify as Gosh Dang It to Heck!) and apparently has No Fourth Wall, since the titular character talks to Ochucki and gives him an idea.
  • Slipping a Mickey: When Staszek has outlived his usefulness and Aleksandra has to get rid of him, she "fortifies" the whiskey. It works, but then she's unable to carry him out and several of her helpers notice the bottle, too.
  • Stealing from the Till:
    • The boiler room guy is stealing coal, rather than keep the boiler hot.
    • Hochwander steals the sausages that were supposed to be used for filming. And his general way of doing business requires a whole lot of creative accounting and outright theft, too.
  • Something Else Also Rises: The "camera cut on the window and show fireworks" take.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The sycophantic employee's song about how great Ochucki is.
    • Same goes with the song of the banjo-playing bum that keeps randomly showing up.
    • Also the wonderfully wooden acting of the kids in "Wujek Dobra Rada" who praise the titular character's advice in a complete monotone. It's the Flat Joy "hurray" that really sells it.
    • The songwriter duo of Ochucki's aquaintance is... not very great at coming up with lyrics. They steal his problems for inspiration.
    • The movie Hochwander is producing is blatant propaganda and makes very little sense, even allowing for the costuming failures.
    • And the musical Aleksandra stars in is probably about the resistance in occupied Warsaw. This would be a bold move even if the musical seemed to make any sense, which it doesn't.
  • Superficial Suggestion Box: The tape recorder in Ochucki's office is supposed to be a suggestion box. It actually is a means of butt-licking, as people record themselves singing Ochucki's praises (some are literally singing) instead. He claims it's all sincere.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Forms the Bookends - the plot begins because Irena has torn Ochucki's passport to prevent him from going to London. When he finally gets on board of the plane, he meets her and does the same thing to her passport, only Irena gets stuck in Heathrow instead of Warsaw.
  • The Television Talks Back: "Wujek Dobra Rada" answers Ochucki's snarky "give me advice... uncle"note  line with a piece of advice he actually tries out - but decides it's more trouble that it's worth.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Most guys in this movie are (intentionally) ugly, to be honest, but special mention goes to Ochucki, whose ex, Irena, is fairly good looking, and Aleksandra, with whom he's sleeping nowadays, is a young airheaded actress.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The entire plot of Miś is Ochucki's elaborate scheme to lie, cheat, swindle and manipulate his way to a hefty bank account he lost due to a Divorce Assets Conflict. Also to get in the pants of a Brainless Beauty actress. He succedes on both counts. Then again, it starts when his ex-wife gets him into trouble precisely to keep Ochucki away from the money, and among the people he's cheating and manipulating only one (the immigrant shopkeeper in London) isn't running a con of their own.
  • Uptown Girl: Aleksandra for Staszek. He's genuinely infatuated, she just needs him for The Plan and is trying to make her boyfriend jealous while at it.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Ochucki's already convoluted scheme is further complicated by how he keeps his accomplices in the dark - they both know they're participating in a con, but think the goals are completely different than what they really are - this causes them to inadvertantly undermine the plan, necessitating adjustments.

Alternative Title(s): Mis