This was originally reviewed on 23/09/17 as part of London Film Festival.
Debut director Dave McCary and SNL co-star Kyle Mooney have teamed up for Brigsby Bear, a videophile flick that is ripe for laughs although slightly self-congratulating.
Abducted at a young age and raised in an underground bunker by an animatronic storytelling bear, James’ life dramatically changes after he is saved and relocated to the 21st century. However, it turns out that the real world, the futuristic present, is so bland that the Brigsby phenomenon must re-emerge.
Two minutes of the titular TV show open Brigsby Bear. Its galactic bear has two women sidekicks and fights an evil sun. It’s an enjoyable watch, assuming we’re as invested as James is in the comforting flicker of grainy VHS tapes. The writers have a specific audience in mind (perhaps those who remember Teddy Ruxpin) to project their own childhood memories onto Mooney’s lead.
While such nostalgic films might be grating for those who weren’t there, this remains pretty good fun for the millennial generation of YouTube uploaders and content creators. Brigsby Bear’s tribute to these is perhaps in part due to the filmmakers’ collaboration with the Lonely Island.
The film is hinged on Mooney’s very endearing lead performance. Paradoxically, Mooney’s alien in whitebread America reveals the strangeness of life outside the movie theatre. The supporting cast of high schoolers, police officers and family members, by necessity, are fairly one-dimensional in contrast to the eccentricity of bunker life. Best of all is its optimism; the abductive parents are entirely nonthreatening and we are left sharing the film’s huge heart.
Some inoffensive Sundance fun, Brigsby Bear is a film about the joys of filmmaking. Its jokey, light-hearted tone holds the audience captive until the moment at which the credits eventually roll, when they must confront their Stockholm syndrome for the cinema auditorium.
CAST: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Jane Adams, Claire Danes
DIRECTOR: Dave McCary
WRITERS: Kevin Costello, Kyle Mooney
SYNOPSIS: Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James. When the show abruptly ends, James’ life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself.