Brigsby Bear
dir Dave McCary
scr Kyle Mooney, Kevin Costello
prd Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg, Will Allegra, Al Di, Mark Roberts, Billy Rosenberg, Akiva Schaffer
with Kyle Mooney, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Greg Kinnear, Ryan Simpkins, Jorge Lendeborg, Mark Hamill, Jane Adams, Claire Danes, Beck Bennett, Kate Lyn Sheil, Andy Samberg
release US 28.Jul.17, UK 8.Dec.17
17/US 1h37
Brigsby Bear
Fatherly advice: Mooney and Hamill

walsh kinnear adams
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Brigsby Bear Like a fanboy-infused variation on Room, this darkly comical drama takes on a potent story about a young man rescued from a lifelong kidnapping. The clever script is very funny, keeping the audience laughing brittlely. And the film is also grappling with some rather intense issues in a meaningful way. This is a striking feature debut for director Dave McCary.

Abducted as an infant, 25-year-old James (Mooney) was raised in a bunker by Ted and April (Hamill and Adams), told the outside air was unbreathable and educated through weekly VHS episodes of Brigsby Bear. So when he's rescued, his real parents Greg and Louise (Walsh and Watkins) are strangers, as is his little sister Aubrey (Simpkins). He gets help from Detective Vogel (Kinnear) and therapist Emily (Danes). And when Aubrey's friend Spencer (Lendeborg) shows interest in Brigsby, James hatches a plan to make a movie to cap off the long-running series Ted made for him.

The film opens with an episode of Brigsby, revealing a hilariously cheesy 70s-style kids' programme about a superhero bear battling sci-fi nuttiness. But of course for James it was his whole world, so the story unfolds as a fish-out-of-water odyssey about a young man with cultural references no one else can possibly understand. And since he learned pretty much everything he knows from Brigsby, he's unwilling to let him go, no matter how hard everyone pushes him.

Mooney gives James a superb mix of nerdy obsession and wide-eyed curiosity, allowing the audience to see that making this movie is probably the best therapy he could have, especially as it helps him make good friends. The supporting cast members all create nicely rounded characters who believably have their own lives into which they're trying to integrate this stranger. The standout is Kinnear, whose cocky cop is nursing thespian ambitions.

Both the script and direction are packed with sharply witty touches that continually provoke knowing laughter. And as James' enthusiasm begins to rub off on the people around him, they realise that they need to take him for who he is rather than trying to turn him suddenly into someone he should be. It's a superb message, nicely woven into the fabric of the story rather than shouted loudly. And above all, the film is a collection of characters who are so loveable that we never want to leave them.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs 22.Sep.17

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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall