Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James. When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself.
Filmed in Salt Lake City, the first few scenes in “Brigsby Bear” immediately give us the feel of a cold and desolate space in the middle of nowhere. Add to it a storyline where a baby has been kidnapped from birth and raised in a desert bunker and you begin to get a feel for a desperate situation where the characters appear to have lost all touch with reality. The irony is that the reality they know, is the only reality there is, and with nothing to compare it to, it is perfect. The real discomfort begins when the local police rush the bunker and arrest his parents and send them to jail to face kidnapping charges. The child they raised, Kyle Mooney (James Pope) is sent to live with his real parents, Mr. and Mrs. Pope (Mark Hamill and Michaela Watkins) and begin a therapeutic process to disengage him from the “Brigsby Bear” tendencies and make him a “normal” person. This intervention becomes a nightmare as well as a double-edged sword when Kyle finds out that the only father he knows, invented the character and every single episode, and the key to his readjustment lies in knowing the future of “Brigsby Bear” whose mission was to save the world and teach life lessons in the process. The realization that there will be no more episodes because the creator is in jail and the equipment is in police custody, does not sit well with Kyle and through trial and error, the family realizes that the only way to restore peace in the family is to allow Kyle to stick with what he knows best, which is “Brigsby Bear.”
The endearing tale that develops as Kyle readjusts to life outside of the bunker is both heartwarming and cringe-worthy. Everyone who meets Kyle is immediately intrigued by his story or totally willing to take advantage of his naiveté. This includes his sister Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins) who is not totally on board with suddenly having a weird brother that she has to explain and look out for. As the family members, therapists, and local Police Detective Vogel (Greg Kinnear) try to manage the outcomes, a greater understanding and appreciation of the value of differences plays a major role in the entire community’s healing.
Director Dave McCary’s recognition of the assembly of a group of SNL collaborators who have been lifelong friends, was an excellent idea in creating this interesting piece of work with massive appeal. First appearing at the Sundance Film Festival in January, “Brigsby Bear” has been widely received and is expected to be one of many projects that has the creative potential of long-standing success which appeals to the human condition over and over again. Don’t miss it!
In select theaters Friday, August 11th