Saturday, August 26, 2017

[Review] Brigsby Bear


Brigsby Bear is a difficult one to classify, and that's part of what makes it so good. Its post-captive story falls somewhere right in the middle between Room and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". But its spirit has more in common with surreal comedy oddities like Frank or Swiss Army Man (without the farts). Either way, it's safe to say this is a film that defies expectations.

Meet James (Kyle Mooney). He lives in his parents' basement, and he's obsessed with "Brigsby Bear"--a campy, 80s-tinged sci-fi show that's filled with life lessons and educational tidbits. But wait, the basement isn't a basement--it's a nuclear bunker! And his parents (played by Mark Hamill(!) and Jane Adams) aren't his real parents--they snatched him at birth! And "Brigsby Bear" isn't...well you get the point. It's not long before the police are busting in and taking James to his real family.

Kyle Mooney (who also serves as screenwriter) plays James with a man-childlike naivety and an almost extraterrestrial quality. And let's just say James has a difficult time adjusting to the outside world. This makes for some wonderfully dry humor and moments that aren't just awkward--they're almost unbearably squirmy--like James' uncomfortable sessions with a therapist (Claire Danes), or when he tags along to a party with his sister and gulps his *first beer* and has his first sexual encounter.

But even with the story's amusing follies and off-kilter tone, there's a definite sadness beneath the costume. A fascinating conflict arises as James gets stuck between holding onto his happy, yet delusional Brigsby Bear life - or moving forward and completely erasing it. This also brings about some somber emotions as his sanity is brought into serious questioning.

Brigsby Bear is strange, imaginative, surprisingly heartfelt, and wholly unique. Or as James would say: "It's so dope as shit."

* 8.5/10 *


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