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11/14/17

BRIGSBY BEAR - REVIEW


Every so often an indie movie comes along to confuse your typically blockbuster-filled theatres and give you a bizarre yet refreshing alternative. Brigsby Bear certainly fit the bill with its unusual posters and trailers suggesting this would probably be this year's Gentlemen Broncos.

The film follows a family living in some kind of bunker home, a couple played by Mark Hamill and Jane Adams with their son James, played by an excellent Kyle Mooney, who is obsessed with an educational sci-fi kids' show called Brigsby Bear. He owns every VHS tape of it, chats to others about Brigsby on forums and even records his own review show on his computer. One day, while sitting outside the bunker wearing a gas mask, a bunch of police cars show up and he finds out that none of his life was real including his parents and his beloved TV show. Turns out his "parents" were in fact kidnappers who kept him locked up underground and made a show just for him. James is therefore finally reunited with his actual family but all he seems to care about is Brigsby so adjusting to his new reality isn't exactly working out. Much to his true parents' dismay, he decides to somehow make a Brigsby Bear feature film and starts getting people involved in the incomprehensible project including new acquaintances, family, even cops.

Initially, the film is a little hard to get into since we are thrown into this strange world James lives in without any context. That's intentional of course as it mirrors his own confusion once he is later thrown into the real world. This is a clever, very funny little movie with a sharp script and a solid cast that includes Greg Kinnear and Claire Danes among others. The Brigsby Bear show itself is a goofy retro gem and the humour throughout is drier than you'd expect from a project made by an SNL segment director and co-produced by Andy Samberg. This is the type of random comedy you'd expect from Jared Hess with the bad taste fashion and out-of-sync characters but this film feels different enough that it never becomes too familiar. The fish-out-of-water post-bunker scenario isn't completely original but it's handled in its own unique way and this is a funny and well-written enough film to get away with being a tad derivative. Besides, it feels somewhat more relevant as it pokes fun at a society stuck behind a computer and confused about everything else.

All in all, Brigsby Bear is the perfect antidote to overblown big-budget Hollywood fare: it's small in scale yet it hits all the right notes and it makes a lot of bigger, more star-studded comedies look shamefully lazy in comparison.

Really good.

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