DVD Review – Brigsby Bear

Brigsby Bear is a very odd film. David McCary, who is one of the main segment directors on Saturday Night Live, is the director, and the star and co-screenwriter is Kyle Mooney, also an SNL stalwart. It’s quite a dark and twisted movie. Mooney plays a man called James who has always lived in what perceives to be his parents’ basement, and the only thing he has seen beyond the basement is a tv show called Brigsby Bear Adventures, and his only other contact was chat rooms about the show. You soon find out that he was abducted by the couple as a child.

The couple are played by Mark Hamill and Jane Adams, although Hamill’s role is more of an extended cameo but he is great in the role. The concept is a bizarre one, though of course such things happen and there have been a number of recent cases. James’s world comes crashing down, and he is returned to his real parents. He finds out that the show was created by his abductors as his “education,” and the chat rooms were also their creation.

James is now an adult, but the outside world is a complicated place due to his experience, and he isn’t sure how to interact with people. Somehow he has to find a way to live outside of the only world he has ever known. He decides to try to make a film based on Brigsby Bear Adventures, which was a kind of crazy fantasy kid’s show. He makes some friends who help him continue the series through the film, including his reluctant sister. Greg Kinnear appears as the head detective on the case, who eventually starts bringing him some props from the evidence room to help with the film project.

It’s kind of sweet, and reminds me a bit of some of Michel Gondry’s films with its mix of darkness and whimsy. It’s unique, definitely different, and a breath of fresh air in a world of manufactured films. It has a very handmade quality, which is also similar to Gondry’s work, and this is especially reflected in the film within the film—any special effects James creates are done in a practical way rather than computer-based. I would say that Brigsby Bear is well worth seeking out.

The disc includes commentary by Mooney and McCary, featurettes and a gag reel.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

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