Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kyle Mooney, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Mark Hamill, Ryan Simpkins, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Claire Danes, Jane Adams, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alexa Demie, Beck Bennett, Andy Samberg
Written by: Kyle Mooney, Kevin Costello
Directed by: Dave McCary
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, brief sexuality, drug material and teen partying
Running Time: 100
Date: 07/28/2017

Brigsby Bear (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

One for the Honey

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This comedy-drama from several Saturday Night Live veterans has a pretty strong case of the cutes, and it doesn't always connect, but at the same time it's genuinely imaginative and sweetly likable.

In Brigsby Bear, twenty-something James Pope (Kyle Mooney) lives with Ted (Mark Hamill) and April Mitchum (Jane Adams), forbidden to leave their compound due to the poison air outside. He spends his hours watching and studying the television show "Brigsby Bear." Suddenly, the FBI raids the place, and James learns that he was kidnapped as a child; it turns out that the air outside is actually fine, and the "Brigsby Bear" show was created by Ted and shown only to him.

Returned to his real family, James has a hard time adjusting and can't forget his lifelong obsession with the bear. After his father takes him to the movies, he decides to make a film, wrapping up the "Brigsby Bear" storyline. He attends a party with his sister and makes some new friends who are willing to help. Unfortunately, the authority figures in his life think that James' obsession is unhealthy and believe that he should be sent somewhere to get help...

Brigsby Bear is one of those movies in which everything revolves around the main character, and all the secondary characters exist in relation to him; they lack inner lives of their own. Whatever secret conflicts or concerns or opinions they might have about James's peculiarities are simply ignored.

Nevertheless, as played by Kyle Mooney, James is such an endearing fellow, unguarded and kind, and it's difficult not to like him. And, as an extension, it's easy to see why all the other characters like him.

Additionally, director Dave McCary and star/co-writer Mooney have created a fascinating universe around Brigsby, and also manage to explore, at least somewhat, the twin pleasures and pitfalls of nostalgia. Certainly the presence of Mark Hamill in the cast as both a voice actor and a sci-fi nerd helps make the point. Otherwise, SNL-er Andy Samberg is also onboard as a co-producer and appears in a funny, small role.

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