Film Review: Brigsby Bear (Dave McCary, 2017) ★★★★

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James Pope (Kyle Mooney) lives a simple life. Inside an underground bunker, he loves nothing more than his favourite TV show - Brigsby Bear Adventures; with no idea that it is produced only for him. However, when the show abruptly ends, James' life changes forever. 

Written by and starring Kyle Mooney, Brigsby Bear tells the story of a young man, James, who has been raised in a bunker by Ted and April (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams). He's lived a secluded yet seemingly happy life - blissfully unaware that those he believes to be his parents are actually his kidnappers. of the world outside the bunker, Ted and April raised James to believe that the air outside is toxic, breathable only through a gas mask, but they can all survive so long as James keeps topping up the bicycle-powered electric generator and doing his maths homework. However, very quickly in to our narrative - James is found by police and returned to his biological parents; whom he had no knowledge of. Once in his new home and immersed in the new world around him, he makes friends who help him on his journey of discovery.

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Some may be relieved to know that Brigsby Bear is actually nothing like that of the SNL comedy from which saw Mooney's rise to fame. Despite being produced by comedy trio The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone), the film has a surprisingly dry sense of humour. Whilst there are, of course, moments which will leave audiences laughing out loud, Brigsby Bear can take pride in it's wit and subtle, yet clever anecdotes.

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Inevitably, Brigsby Bear brings to mind several comparisons - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015 TV Show), The Truman Show (1998) and, more recently, Room (2015). But whilst the subject matter may be dark at times, the 'kidnapping' itself is not the main focus of the narrative. Even upon visiting Ted (Hamill) in prison, there is no sense of ill-will. Instead, Brigsby Bear is very much about James' connection with creativity and new found love of movies - creating movies. "Can anyone make movies?" he asks his biological parents. Having only known one TV show all his life, the sudden realisation that he too can build something is really what moulds the story. It also has an incredibly uplifting and endearing quality which, alongside the cinematography and charming ascetic, is what makes the film so beautiful. 

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The show, Brigsby Bear Adventures, in itself, is actually a work of art - masterminded by Mooney and his childhood friends. From the makeshift design to the amusing catchphrases of it's characters, the fake TV show wonderfully captured 90's nostalgia. So much so it could be confused for a real television programme. Think Polka Dot Shots meets Sesame Street. Shot on VHS tapes, and running over 33 episodes, we soon learn that Ted is actually the shows creator - he stars in a plush bear suit as Brigsby; alongside aspiring actress (Kate Lyn Sheil) as sidekick twins, and the evil solar-being that is Sunsnatcher (also Hamill). This level of detail, used throughout the film, is truly what makes it so immersive and enjoyable to watch. 

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Of course, not entirely without fault, it could be argued that Brigsby Bear lacks the depths of it's comparative films. The story itself may seem simple but instead it focuses on detail and creativity. And despite a surprisingly shorter running time of just 1 hour 40 mins, it does a fantastic job of pacing the narrative to keep you transfixed as it progresses. Overall, Brigsby Bear has secured itself a place in my top films of 2017. In terms of humour, visuals and the sheer joy it brings, it really does tick all the boxes. And so, Brigsby Bear gets a Sophie star rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I can't wait to see this again in cinemas on December 8th.

That's it for another film review, are you planning on seeing Brigsby Bear this December? What have been some of your favourite films of the year so far? As always, I love reading your comments so please do leave me lots of lovely ones below.

Until next time film fans,

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6 comments:

  1. I've read some really good write ups of Brigsby Bear, enough to persuade me that I'll have to go see it! Plus I love Mark Hamill so it's a win win really.

    jess
    alrightblondie.com

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    1. Yay! Please do - it's really amazing. Definitely one of my top films of 2017. You must let me know what you think of it xx

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  2. Yeah, the selling point for me is Mark Hamill also :) Also, to see Jane Adams because shw was in a fav movie of mine - Happiness by Todd Solondz. It's called Happiness it has very depressing and disturbing themes especially concerning the character played by Dylan Baker.
    I looked at Mark Kermode's list of the best for 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQq-SOM_Fv0 and I have to agree with him on Logan, Wonder Woman, Get Out, and Baby Driver. I like Baby Driver in the face of some backlash against that movie. I thought Spider-Man Homecoming and Thor were really entertaining. There are some on Kermode's list that I'd like to watch, including Red Turtle, as I am a fan of Studio Ghibli. I think of Moonlight as a 2016 movie but that is a good one to rewatch.

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    1. Ugh yes I've seen it - Happiness is dark. I haven't seen that in many years now!

      I didn't see any backlash towards Baby Driver at all, what was that about? I saw 5 star reviews across the board. Baby Driver is on my top, Blade Runner: 2049, Get Out, La La Land, Dunkirk, Thor, many more to think about!

      Yeah for us Moonlight got released in January/February so it counts for my 2017 list :D

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    2. There were a number of older people who didn't like Baby Driver (probably something to do with the dislike of millennials): http://www.refinery29.com/2017/07/162268/anthony-bourdain-tweets-comments-on-baby-driver-ava-duvernay-responds and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2R9n3q6KuI
      Blade Runner 2049 is a really fine film indeed. It really deserves to be watched and I'm puzzled about how poorly it did at the box office.

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  3. I actually missed this at the cinema but it is out on DVD and Bluray now so may have to give it a go. I really love SNL even though you said it's not quite that sort of humour but I think I'd really like it and also because of Mark Hamill who I LOVE! Another fantastic film review, Sophie

    Ashley xx
    http://www.imamovienerd.wordpress.com

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