Brigsby Bear (2017) is one of those movies where spoilers will definitely impact your viewing of the film. Directed by Dave McCary and written by Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney (who also stars in the film), Brigsby is a comedy with so much heart and story that it’s easily a highlight of 2017’s many strong indie films. James (Mooney) is a twenty-five-year-old obsessed with a children’s television show. When the show ends abruptly – changing his world forever – he sets out to finish the story.
Brigsby Bear is a film that needs to be seen in a world full of negativity
Mooney does a terrific job playing the awkward but passionate James. There are a great many things that James never had a chance to experience, putting him in an interesting fish-out-of-water story only adds to the magic of this film. There is a moment in the film where his sister takes him to a party, and the expectation was that we would be rejected and bullied by the younger, cooler teenagers. Instead, he finds friendship, acceptance, and people with similar passions. It’s this scene, and several more like this, that give a fresh optimistic tone to a situation that could have easily been hopeless. Additionally, this tone is one that I am personally in high demand for in a real world that feels too negative, too often.
The rest of the cast of this film is strong as well, which may be due to the fact that Mooney and McCrary both write or work with Saturday Night Live, giving them access to the high-caliber talent found in this small film. The Lonely Island has a production credit, and Andy Samberg even has a cool cameo in the film which is a lot of fun. The two big highlights of the known cast were definitely Mark Hamill and Greg Kinnear (not to discredit Claire Danes, Matt Walsh, and Michaela Watkins, who each did great as well). Hamill gets to do a lot of the voice work for the clips of Brigsby Bear and is an important character in the overall plot and James’ life. Kinnear gets to be a pretty dynamic character who starts as a straight-laced police officer who learns to embrace his forgotten artistic side. Both give some pretty terrific performances and leave a lasting impression.
The younger cast is led by Ryan Simpkins (The House), Alexa Demie, and Jorge Lendeborg, Jr. They become James friends all manage to be far more complex than the movies short runtime should allow. The characters in this film all feel real despite the slightly unusual, but not impossible, world they’ve found themselves to be in. Each character has an impact on James, and James impacts their lives as well. It’s not overly sappy but still manages to get across the idea of love, and the power of friendship despite a very complicated situation.
Considering how many clips have to come from the fake show Brigsby Bear, there is surely a significant amount of work that went into the production of this small film. There is much to appreciate, especially the passion for film and/or television. It’s a movie that is definitely one worth rewatching and could find itself a cult following. I give Brigsby Bear, which is currently available on VOD and Bluray/DVD, the Must See rating.