Isolated weirdos have always felt special in their own personally-built bubbles, in their own make-believe worlds of fantasy, so as not to feel the pains of real world living.
Their uber-oddness certainly would compound to the nth degree, no doubt, if that person was a social shut-in for their entire formative life, raised on the wacky Saturday morning adventure episodic’s featuring a guy in a bear suit.
What kind of person would they be, and what kind of person would they be forced to become?
This is the premise of “Brigsby Bear.” This comedy/drama tells the story of James Pope (Kyle Mooney), a young man who, years after he was abducted from his family by a pair of nutball wannabe-parents and raised on their public-access style television show about a time and space traveling bear, was released back into real world suburbia to make sense of real human relationships.
The awkward bubble-boy is played by Saturday Night Live’s new kid Kyle Mooney, who came up with Brigsby Bear as a child and let the idea percolate into his mind. Mooney, who broke it big with internet videos from the comedic sketch group Good Neighbor, also brings his childhood pals in to direct and act in this unique film.
As a Mooney fan and Good Neighbor fan myself, I must say I was slightly disappointed and wish that there was some more comedy in it from their own sensibilities.
Mooney’s brand of alt-comedy is awkward-irony and mixed with the heavy VHS-style nostalgia of the eighties and nineties. In “Brigsby Bear,” he turns that ironic character into an innocent and deprived one, one that we feel sympathetic towards.
“Brigsby” is clever in a lot of ways. In other ways, not so much. After Mooney escapes the confines of prison life, he must learn what is out there in the real world, dealing with his parents as well as Detective Vogel (Greg Kinnear). Mooney’s sole wish is to re-create and share Brigsby Bear with the world in a sort of “Me Earl and the Dying Girl” aesthetic. By its premise alone, it’s clear that this film is more a family feel-good than a comedy for college kids. But hey, maybe if you’d spent your amateur career living in the absurd (as well as professional SNL life), you’d want to bring things back to reality. Or maybe you just played it a little too safe. Anyways, that’s how the movie plays.
Mooney’s passion project played at Sundance and it feels like a well-crafted festival hit. As a Mooney fan and Good Neighbor fan myself, I must say I was slightly disappointed and wish that there was some more comedy in it from their own sensibilities. Ultimately, “Brigsby Bear” is as conventional and heartwarming as a sit-com episode would be, which Mooney – like his characters – seems to live and love.
“Brigsby Bear” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief sexuality, drug material and teen partying. 100 minutes. Now playing at ArcLight Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, and Pasadena.