Sunday April 22nd 10:00 AM
Director: Dave McCary
Cast: Kyle Mooney, Greg Kinnear, Mark Hamill, Claire Danes
Runtime: 100 minutes
National Board of Review: Top 10 Independent Films; Provincetown International Film Festival: John Schlesinger Award, Narrative; Film Club’s Lost Weekend: Best Film; Audience Favourite; nine other nominations.
“The rare comedy–one of a very special sense of humour and a big heart-that has the ability to connect with anyone wondering what else is out there.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
On the surface Brigsby Bear is a fish out of water tale, where an abducted child James (SNL’s Kyle Mooney) has been raised as a 25-year-old innocent by well meaning-yet-lunatic pseudo-parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams). His one virtual companion is “Brigsby Bear,” a lo-fi kids’ show produced by his ‘dad’ that has served as James’ sole means of education. Obsessing over his carefully curated Brigsby VHS tapes, James is content in the bunker of a home where his ‘parents’ tell him that air in the post-apocalyptic desert outside is unbreathable.
When suddenly rescued from a captivity, James is thrust into an unknown world. Reunited with his real parents and sister, his biggest shock is the realization that the world isn’t aware of the life-sized bear which has formed the basis for most of his life.
Heady stuff for what’s really just a gentle, silly comedy. One buys into James’ innocence and his nascent intelligence as he tries to comically relate to a new world through his fanciful Brigsby philosophy.
The script provides James with compactly-shaped characters who credibly accept him for what he is. There’s the investigative cop (Greg Kinnear) who harbours long-suppressed acting ambitions and good-hearted Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg Jr) one of James’ sister friends and a fantasy-fan in his own right who assists James with producing one last Brigsby episode. It’s suggested that this exercise may provide James with some closure and enable him to move on.
Brigsby exudes an infectious sweetness and innocent charm. The world accepts our protagonist for the person he actually is as opposed to forcing him to be what he should have been. An impressive debut for director Dave McCary.
Director Dave McCary makes an impressive debut with this offbeat whimsical comedy, which explores the experiences of a young man rescued after years in captivity. Reality takes a back seat to a fanciful and often gently hilarious point of view of how a sheltered fan-boy is suddenly uprooted from a cocoon-like existence face to a whole new world.
Brigsby is a fish-out-water tale about James (co-writer Kyle Mooney) a 25-year-old man-child, who was kidnapped as an infant and raised in a bunker by Ted and April (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) who claimed to be his parents and told him the air outside was unbreathable. Over the years, James’ education and world view has come from weekly videotape episodes of the children’s show Brigsby Bear, made by Ted specifically for him. But when James is rescued and reunited with his real parents (Matt Walsh and Michael Watkins), and spikey sister Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins), they’re strangers to him.
To make sense of this big new world, he gets help from a cop (Greg Kinnear) and a therapist (Claire Danes). But James longs to revisit Brigsby’s world. So when Aubrey’s friend Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg), a sci-fantasy fan himself, shows interest in the furry character, James launches an epic plan to make a movie to bring the TV series to a conclusion, perhaps providing James with some closure and thus enabling him to move on to real life.
It’s hilarious to see the man-child James try to adapt to a contemporary world only through cultural references as they relate to Brigsby. Mooney underscores James’ obsession with a bright sense of curiosity that’s infectious for the other characters and the audience.
This sounds dubious, but the characters are compactly well-defined, with the standout being Kinnear, a cocky detective with acting ambitions. The rest of piece exudes an infectious, comical charm that sets aside suspension of disbelief. And one accepts the film’s gentle message, where the world accepts James for the person he actually is instead for forcing him to be what he should have been.