Film Review: Brigsby Bear

Director Dave McCary’s feature debut Brigsby Bear is a funny and surprisingly heart-warming film. McCary and writers Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney get the tone right. 

James is obsessed with children’s television show Brigsby Bear. The show abruptly ends when James’ life changes drastically. Nevertheless, he sets out

Given the subject matter, there are a number of ways in which the film could have gone wrong. Thankfully, the filmmakers get it right; towing a line between emotional and humorous. Brigsby Bear is funny without diminishing what is a dark premise. 

Jokes in the film hit the mark. Some of the humour is outlandish, but always funny. There a several laugh out loud moments. The screenplay does not simply rely on comedy however. The film has a sweetness that is endearing. The writers and director manage to create a film that is both funny and sweet, but never over sentimental.  

Protagonist James is charming to watch thanks to his naivety and enthusiasm. The concept of the television show is ripe for humour. Filmmakers acknowledge dark side to the narrative without sobering the tone too significantly. The relationships that James develops are a joy to watch, particularly friendship with Spence and his developing relationship with Aubrey. 

Co-writer Kyle Mooney delivers a great central performance as James. Mark Hamill, Ryan Simpkins, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. are also good. The rendering of VHS footage is a nice touch. Many viewers will be able to identify with nostalgia factor of the television show, but probably not quite to this degree. 

Brigsby Bear offers a sweet story which tackles a potentially harrowing subject in a way that gives joy and laughter, as well as a suitable arc for the protagonist. The film is a great watch. 

Brigsby Bear is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

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