‘Brigsby Bear’ Review

The year is 2017. Homosapians live in a heavily nostalgic society always looking to MAKE what MADE them happy as kids MAKE them happy as adults.  Specifically all you mid-20 year olds and beyond looking for nostalgia for your comfort food.  Never has there been so many fat 29 year olds with matching Batman socks looking to relive simpler times.  Before work.  Before bills.  Before the world turned into whatever chaos engulfs our news cycles and threat of Nuclear disaster lies in the hands and a small-minded ego maniac………. (I’m talking to myself here).  Kids who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s may go down in history as the most nostalgic generations, as the ones that came before didn’t have as much pop culture and future generations have too much pop culture for anything to truly stick.  This nostalgia is in due part to Hollywood reviving every old franchise imaginable with a twist of attempted cool (looking at you Power Rangers).  As adults do we need to shed these shows, movies, and trends from our personalities so they don’t hold us back from development?  Or does the pop culture we consume as children influence our creative endeavors as adults?  Sony Pictures Classics new film Brisby Bear examines this nostalgia in an unquestionably unique way from the perspective of an individual who was never forced to grow up- because unbeknownst to him he was abducted and held prisoner his entire life.

Brigsby Bear is directed by Dave McCary (SNL segment writer) and stars Kyle Mooney (who also co-wrote the film with Kevin Costello), as James Pope.  As a baby James was abducted by April (Jane Adams) and Ted Mitchum (Mark Hamill) and told the world was an apocalyptic wasteland surviving in an underground bunker with his “parents”. After the police raid the compound, he is free, but the only thing he truly knew was his favorite show Brigsby Bear- which was made by Ted for James for 25 years. With his former life revolving almost exclusively around this show, James sets out to direct the Brigby Bear movie and finish Brigsby’s quest.

Getting all these current nostalgic films and tv shows is great, however it does come at somewhat of a cost.  The main problem with reviving these old franchises is that we don’t get enough films like Brigbsy Bear– small-budgeted films with incredibly talented casts.  Sure Netflix provides an outlet for these films as studios move more and more of their money into these huge super hero tentpoles.  I mean, who can blame them?  There’s bookoo bucks to be made, and for the most part relatively safe investments. A film like Brigbsy Bear is a bit of a financial gamble.  Not everyone will like it, and that’s okay. It’s movies like this that become classics and defy generations. So what makes this film so great? Let’s begin.

Brigsby Bear examines this question of nostalgia and the influences of our childhood affecting our creativity in an unconventual way. By having the main character someone who lived in a bunker for 25 years and only knowing his “parents” and surviving on a diet of the show made just for him, Brigsby Bear is able to highlight a truly innocent soul and someone who hasn’t been corrupted by bills, work, and all around worldly chaos. The main character of James taps into something that is in all of us.  It’s buried deep in some, and others on the surface and may be reflected on their t-shits.  Brigbsy consumes James’ mind, and as his real parents attempt to reaclamate him into normal society, his creativity and naivety lead him to not give up on his dreams.

Helping James along the way is police detective Vogel (Greg Kinnear), the first detective to talk to James. After his first question he immediately sees James’ innocence and passion, and in a way brings out his own old childhood passions of wanting to be an actor. He helps James along the way by recollecting the police-seized Brigsby costumes and locations, and eventually acts in the movie himself. Vogel represents everyone who gave up on their dreams to get a more “realistic” job with his dream never truly escaping his mind or soul. People abandon their dream because life gets in the way, but deep down it never escapes. As detective Vogel, Kinnear gives a great performance in articulating this inner struggle, and is an excellent supporting character who compliments the rest of the cast and our main character in his quest to complete the journey of Brigsby.

Brigsby Bear is directed by Dave McCary, best known for his current work on SNL and creating the now-famous sketch group Good Neighbor with Mooney, fellow SNL star Beck Bennett and former SNL writer Nick Rutherford.  McCary has a clear knack for bringing out what he needs in his performers with a ride array of notable actors.  Everyone from Mark Hamill to the newest actor is handled in a way that in an almost ridiculously funny comedy plays out seriously and earnestly with an utterly consistent tone.  Every actor feels like they’re in the same movie, and play the ultra comedic elements of this drama in a way that works throughout the picture. Kyle Mooney’s, VHS nostalic heavy, sincere, and dry sensibilities lend very well to the big screen in what will hopefully be the beginning of a spectacular movie career.

Kyle Mooney’s had a great sketch comedy career, thrived on YouTube, is a main cast member on SNL, and has been in many big-budget films, but most people don’t know who he is. While HIS OWN status may not immediately change with what I believe is his breakout film, the people who make movies will certainly take notice.  Brigsby Bear WILL not be for everyone. It won’t sell in China or even here in the states, but for those lucky enough to take a chance and take the ride, Brigsby Bear is worth every penny.

Brigsby Bear is directed by Dave McCary and stars Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, Andy Samburg, Greg Kenner, Micheala Watkins, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Walsh, and Beck Bennett.  The film is currently expanding in theaters nationwide.


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