Brigsby Bear (2017)
As credits roll, we hear a VCR being loaded with a tape. We see that we are about to watch a rather worn tape of a show called Brigsby Bear Adventures. Once the credits have played, the person that is watching this tape knows it well as they fast forward through some scenes. Brigsby Bear is some sort of super hero and in this episode, using a crystal and the help of twin girls, the Bear is trying to defeat something called the Sun Chaser. The well-worn tape shows us other scenes, including a scene where the Bear teaches calculus. Besides saving the world, Brigsby consistently advises how to live.
The camera pulls out, and we see that a young man, James (Kyle Mooney), who is in his mid-twenties is the one that is watching this program. He knows it so well that he can recite every line, and he does. Looking around the room and by how James watches the program, we can tell that Brigsby Bear is incredibly important to the young man. After watching the program, James excitingly goes over to an ancient computer and does a telecast on the computer, talking about the program he just saw. It’s clear that he thinks this is going out to a ton of fans of the show.
We next see James giving an elaborate presentation, much like a science fair exhibit, to his parents, Ted (Mark Hamill) and April (Jane Adams). They listen intently as he outlines how Brigsby Bear can defeat the Sun Catcher. We see them at the dinner table where Jame’s parents suggest that he should concentrate on his studies, but he is convinced that he can help Brigsby Bear win the ultimate battle.
James is in his room upset over his parents attempt to waylay his plans to help Brigsby. His father comes into the room and suggests that they take a trip up top. From their journey, we can tell that they live in an underground bunker, with lots of sealed doors. They head upwards to a dome, and we can see its night time. They both sit on a bench and look at the scenery, with the father explaining how the animals are living in such a harsh environment. We realize that the animals and bugs he is pointing out are just animatronic puppets; apparently, James doesn’t understand that they aren’t real.
We next see what a day in the life of living in the bunker is like for James, including getting up to an audio alarm system, his mom teaching him something on the computer and having dinner where they all shake hands when they are finished. In bed James is watching Brigsby when the alarm goes off, telling James that it’s time for bed and the generator is shutting down. We next see James get up in the middle of the night, climbing up to a final hatch, where he puts on a gas mask, then opens the door to the outside. James sits on top of the entrance, breathing heavily in the gas mask as he contemplates life. Soon he notices flashing blue lights, which we recognize as police cars. Those police cars, which James knows nothing about are about to change James’ life forever. Can Brigsby Bear save James from this harsh new world?
Director by Dave McCary, a veteran writer/director of Saturday Night Live shorts and co-writer/star Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney, bring us an imaginative, funny and sometimes touching story of a fish out of water. While Brigsby Bear doesn’t always succeed, its ambition and delightful story go a long way to make this an enjoyable, fun film to watch.
The center of this movie is Kyle Mooney, who is in every scene. He plays James as a wide-eyed explorer who is quick to copy the people around him, often stealing phrases that other people say, not always understanding what he is saying, but he seems to know that works, most of the time. It’s a sweet performance that wins you over almost instantly, and James’s devotion to Bigsby is played by Mooney with passion and innocence. Mooney plays James as a young man who is still growing into his skin, slightly awkward and shy until James gets to know someone, and then it’s almost overboard excitement.
Mooney is helped by an outstanding cast; including Mark, Hamil has James’s father, Greg Kinnear, a cop that takes James under his wing, Matt Walsh, and Michaela Watkins as James’ real parents, and smaller parts for stalwarts like Claire Danes, Andy Samberg, and Beck Bennett. Mooney has exceptional chemistry with Jorge Lendeborg Jr, who plays Spencer, who becomes James’ best friend and Ryan Simpkins as his moody sister Aubrey, who James eventually wins over.
It’s rare that you can describe a film as charming, sweet and a little disturbing because it contains a story about child abduction, but that’s what you get from Brigsby Bear. It’s an imaginative and original film that sometimes tries a little too hard, but overall the movie is worth seeing. After watching this film, like James, you just might believe in Brigsby Bear too. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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