Dave McCary/USA/2017/97 mins
At Cameo from Fri 8 Dec 2017
It’s hard to believe that a film about an abducted child could be as playful, as touching or as charming as Brigsby Bear. Kyle Mooney plays James, a man who has grown up in captivity unbeknownst to him until he is suddenly introduced to the rest of the world. If this sounds like a spoiler, it isn’t. The film does not revolve so much around his abduction but instead focuses on family, friends and most of all, film.
Throughout his life, James has been entertained by a children’s TV show about a bear named Brigsby whose intergalactic quests save the universe time and time again from the sun snatcher. When he finds out that he is in fact the only person to have ever seen the show, he makes it his mission to re-create the world that has dominated his life.
The main focuses of Brigsby Bear is the power of films and television to connect people, not only in watching them but also making them. It is about forming unlikely families and friendships with high school kids, estranged parents and best of all a thespian detective played wonderfully by Greg Kinnear. On the point of family, it is unusual that the abductors are not demonised throughout the film: they’re not shown as deranged monsters but rather an alternative source of love and support. Furthermore, unlike most abduction stories, they are not the centre of the plot but an aspect of a love letter to film.
One of the best parts of this film is the homemade aesthetic. Like the characters making the final episode of Brigsby, you get the idea that director Dave McCary and writers Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney, who all met at school, had just as much fun making this film.
This film is sad, sweet and funny in parts. It’s hard to describe it without sounding schmaltzy, but the original premise, otherworldly scenery and spacey soundtrack stop it from becoming a cliché Sundance feel good quirk-fest.