At the beginning of the year I never thought there would be not one, but two cultist films idolising bad movies. Who knew.
Brigsby Bear (2017) is a comedy drama directed by Dave McCary. It stars Kyle Mooney as James, a young man living a secluded life who is obsessed with the television series Brigsby Bear. But when his life is upended and the truth behind the show is revealed, James sets out to finish the story he’s been in love with for his entire life.
I’m being vague with the story details as that was my experience going into the film, and this is a somewhat unique movie worth seeing fresh. And its that freshness that initially makes the film wildly interesting and unpredictable, and while that spontaneity sadly fades over its runtime this is still a light and fluffy little narrative that deals with some very interesting questions regarding art, nostalgia and fandom – which seems mighty appropriate considering the meteor shower happening around The Last Jedi right now.
The biggest positive I can say for this film is its earnestness. This is a movie of genuine passion not only from the film-makers but the characters themselves, and even when this movie deals with some incredibly heavy plot points, it never loses that whimsical, light-hearted energy. The veneer does fade over time unfortunately as you rapidly realise the somewhat lacklustre direction the plot is going, but that energy never quite goes away and still leaves you with that warm, comfortable feeling as the credits roll.
This cast doesn’t sport many massive names, but they mostly deliver solid performances in their respective roles. Lead Mooney walks a very thin line between annoying and adorable, and ends up being a combination of both which frankly makes him frustrating to watch at times. He gets somewhat redeemed by his co-stars acting off him, such as Mark Hamill who at this moment cannot seem to do wrong. Other people worth mentioning are Greg Kinnear as the wannabe Shakespearian cop who turns into an utter delight as the film goes on, Ryan Simpkins as James’ sister who skews a little too far into the ‘angsty teenage girl’ archetype, and Kate Lyn Sheil who is the centre-piece in arguably the best scene in the entire movie.
While I may have found the lead occasionally grating and was ultimately disappointed in the direction the story went, there was still something incredibly earnest and intoxicating about Brigsby Bear that I couldn’t help but enjoy. Coupled with some fascinating and thoughtful questions the premise proposes and a solid supporting cast, this doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Disaster Artist‘s kook-fest, but is still a movie that deserves its own little Brigsby Bear-esque cult following.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
Cultists: Highly Recommended