Sweet Innocence: Our Review of ‘Brigsby Bear’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 04, 2017
Sweet Innocence: Our Review of ‘Brigsby Bear’

That which makes the surprising Brigsby Bear so lovely and welcoming is twofold: its simultaneous dedication to sincerity and aversion to condescension.

It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do when your story centers on a developmentally arrested twenty-something who has been raised in seclusion by two kidnappers posing as his parents. The world of James (Kyle Mooney) is quickly upended when a police raid puts his fake guardians in jail and finds him united with his biological family and an outside world he doesn’t quite understand.

The transition is sudden and arduous for James – letting go of the only family he knew and acquiring a new one in return; learning you can breathe the air outside; encountering alcohol and sex-  but one thing is especially hard. That would be Brigsby Bear, the only television show and really friend James ever knew.

As part of their effort to seclude James and help him grow, Ted (Mark Hamill) created a serial show about a talking bear that battled evil and made friends and satisfied all the imaginative delights and moral compassing of a child. When liberated, James’ only interest remains Brigsby. Watching some 700 episodes will do that to a person.

But it’s all handled with care, from a sympathetic therapist (Claire Danes) to a friendly detective (Greg Kinnear) who has a penchant for the theatre. His sister pushes back at times but also welcomes James to her social outings, and it’s not long before he makes friends. If nothing else, Brigsby Bear is filled with hope, warmth, and inclusiveness, qualities aren’t exactly booming in pop culture at the moment.

So James and his newfound friends and family band together to offer some closure to the only way he knows: make a finale to Brigsby Bear. 

Sweet and charming, this film by a pair of Saturday Night Live writers (Mooney, Kevin Costello) reminds of the hopeful innocence of youth and the simple pleasures life can offer. And not without notice, the pleasures that television can allow as well.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.