Film Review – Brigsby Bear (2017)

Title – Brigsby Bear (2017)

Director – Dave McCary (feature debut)

Cast – Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Jane Adams, Matt Walsh, Claire Danes, Andy Samberg, Greg Kinnear

Plot – After being kidnapped as a child by April (Adams) and Ted Mitchum (Hamill) and brought up in a life away from everyday life, with only fake TV show Brigsby Bear to keep him company, man-child James Pope (Mooney) finds himself in the outside world and struggling to come to terms with life without Brigsby Bear by his side.

“It’s a shame you weren’t abducted too, we could’ve had so much fun together”

Review by Eddie on 7/06/2018

You’d never be able to question Brigsby Bear’s foundation of originality.

Saturday Night Live alumni Dave McCary’s film is a truly unique independent offering with its heart in the right place and some neat ideas but the initially intriguing and quietly captivating experience of Kyle Mooney’s James Pope’s journey from a life of solitude, with escapism provided by a fake TV show, through to a life lived in the big wide world of making friends and learning how to live and love, ends up becoming a somewhat familiar experience that never makes its mark like you had hoped.

As we begin our journey with the mid-20’s James, who is living under the care and supervision of his parental figures in the form of Jane Adams and Mark Hamill (doing some nice work in limited screen time), McCary’s film is full of odd whimsy and an off-beat, yet heartfelt core but as this story of a man-child learning to become an adult and learning to focus on the important things, McCary’s story, that largely ends up involving James and his new outside friends making a movie based on the made up character of Brigsby Bear, loses much of its charms and captivating concepts.

There are some fine individual sequences and moments of genuine heart and laughter but McCary’s film to often finds itself walking familiar character beats and story arcs as James begins to understand more about his new surrounds and characteristics of human beings and as this occurs you wish you had had more opportunity to see some more of James backstory and life in the surrounds of his previous bunker life, not so much of his time making his passion project with a bunch of side players we don’t ever come to care that much for.

One thing you can’t take away from McCary’s film and his overall vision is the commitment by his able-bodied cast of familiar faces that includes the likes of Greg Kinnear, Claire Danes and Lonely Island/ex-Saturday Night Live member Andy Samberg, who all seem invested in making Brigsby Bear more than your average every day off-kilter experience and it’s always nice seeing actors of note take time out of their otherwise higher profile projects to work on smaller scale affairs such as this.

Final Say –

Filled with some great ideas and fantastic individual moments, Brigsby Bear has its fair share of wonder and easy to digest charm but from the highs of its starting point, McCary’s film slowly makes its way towards its end zone and ends up being a middle of the road experience, rather than a great one.

2 ½ bear costumes out of 5     

4 responses to “Film Review – Brigsby Bear (2017)

  1. I was interested in watching this movie for the pure weirdness factor until I read something comparing it to “Napoleon Dynamite,” a movie which I couldn’t stand and didn’t get the hype for at all. Jane Adams is a wonderful actress and I’m glad to see Greg Kinnear’s in something again (I don’t think he’s been in a whole hell of a lot in years) but nonetheless, I’m not in any rush to see this movie. Nice review, it sounds like it had a lot of potential for you that fell short.

    • It’s super odd and not far removed from films like Napoleon Dynamite. It had a lot of potential but really starts to peter out towards the end, its worth watching sometime if it falls onto tv or streaming services but not one you need to seek out.

      • Yeah, I’ve learned to pretty much be wary of anything that gets compared to “Napoleon Dynamite.” Take “Eagle Vs. Shark” for instance… it was compared to “Napoleon Dynamite” and I think it’s the weakest of Taika Waititi’s movies (that I’ve seen.) The ‘quirky oddball indie’ is just not a subgenre I’m particularly in love with.

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