Brigsby Bear Review

Brisgby Bear (2017) Movie Review By Philip Henry

Brigsby Bear

Director: Dave McCary
Writers: Kevin Costello, Kyle Mooney
Stars: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Claire Danes

I do like reading those online lists of ‘Best Films You Haven’t Seen’. They’re a great place to find the indie gems that pass under the multiplex radar, and that’s where I came across this strange little movie.

Mark Hamill plays this guy who lives in a subterranean home in the middle of the desert with his family (typecasting!). The difference is they live a totally isolated life – no Internet, no TV and no outside contact as they’ve told their son his whole life that the outside air is toxic. James is now 25 years old and his only exposure to pop culture is a kids TV show called Brisgby Bear. Every week he gets a fresh VHS tape from the outside world with the next episode of this space adventure, so Brigsby has become James’s whole world.

Then one day the cops show up and James finds out that the air outside isn’t toxic, and his parents aren’t his parents at all. They abducted him as a baby and raised him as their own in this weird underground bubble they created.

James is reunited with his real parents and I thought I was in for the usual fish out of water story as James tries to adjust to normal life. I’ve seen this setup done before in the film Blast From The Past and it was played as a straight ahead comedy, but this is subtler and sweeter, and is more a story about an outsider trying to fit in.

Most movies would cue a funny montage of James seeing all the wonders of our world and not understanding them, but that’s not this movie’s style. He goes to a party and has his first sexual encounter and he goes to a cinema and sees his first movie, and that pretty much makes up his mind about what he wants to do – make a movie. So he studies up on movie-making and decides to finish the Brigsby Bear story he has been following his whole life.

We’re in a very sweet world in this film. James isn’t ridiculed or bullied for not knowing the rules of our world. Everyone seems charmed by his innocence and naiveté and he gets help from some unlikely sources to help him make his movie.

I suppose there’s maybe a comment being made about obsessive fans of any show: you don’t have to spend your lives in a basement watching reruns – if you go outside and find other people who share your passion, you’ll have a much richer life experience. Well, that was what I took away from it anyway.

Tonally speaking, it’s probably closest to Napoleon Dynamite. So if you liked that film, you’ll probably like this. It’s definitely an oddity, but it’s a nice low-key film about following your dreams and not conforming to what everyone else thinks you should be. I really enjoyed it.

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