Image: Kyle Mooney & Mark Hamill in Brigsby Bear. [Source: IMDB]
Brigsby Bear is a children’s adventure television show, produced for an audience of one – James (Played by ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ Kyle Mooney) but when the show abruptly ends, James’s life is shifted entirely as he sets out to finish the story.
Director: Dave McCary. Starring: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill 
Thankfully I was advised by a friend to go into Brigsby Bear blind, and I followed, I avoided trailers, posters, cast lists, just about everything about the film aside from its main poster which I caught on the wall while entering to see another film.
Thankfully, in avoiding any details on the film, going in blind rewarded me with a rollercoaster of reads and trying to find my feet with what the movie was about, which is to the film’s credit. There is a lot of playing with audience expectations of where this story will go and how characters will and should behave. For example, some characters you’d expect to be ‘evil’ turn out to be quite wholesome and characters or situations you’d expect to reject James actually accept him for who he is and take him in with open arms, often revealing that people aren’t so dissimilar to him. Thankfully this separation from expectations never feels forced or like a cheap trick as it matches the films tone and mood to its core.
The pairing of character to tone is handled perfectly, a credit to “SNL’s” Kyle Mooney’s performance in pulling off a somewhat (or should be) harrowing story in a light-hearted and fun way. The writing does an incredible job of aiding his performance in making sure this comes across in a mild manner. I’d go so far as to say this is a terrific feel-good film, which I think is the way it is supposed to be. The cinematography uses standard camera work with wide shots and appealing colours to give the film a soft feel to it. Never giving us tense camera work, which reinforces this central theme of innocence, the movie itself follows a children’s Television programme and in some respects, it has the same appeal, its silly, quirky and light-hearted.
The coasting by direction it has does result in some lulls in the story. However, at times I didn’t even think anything was happening other than us watching James be around people as he makes his movie. Some of the lulls are very comedic while a few offer nothing to aid the film or the character study which is thinly layered at best. While it may be a thinly layered character study and avoids any kind of depth digging into what is happening in the story and why characters are or are not addressing issues.
I think avoiding taking itself too serious actually improves the film, it presents us with some ideas as to the mind of James but instead focuses on the coming together of people and passion for fandom. It goes into this idea of fandom, what it means, why grown men follow childhood passions, shows or movies and how it sticks with them for their lives. It does a good job of presenting facets of that discussion but again is thinly layered.
Brigsby Bear is a fascinating, fun and superb feel-good movie. It’s quirks and originality help it stand out taller than most films out at the moment and deserves to be championed for that. While it may not dig too deep into its themes and ideas it presents, its’ thinly layered discussion is more than enough as having a big smile on your face for the film and leaving with it too, makes it an absolute treat.