It’s funny how time can give you a different perspective on things. Take Children’s TV characters; at the time, many of them were fun, colourful characters who we adored and just wanted to spend as much time with as possible.
Looking back at them now, many of them could be considered disturbing and sinister, and you certainly wouldn’t want them in the same room as your own kids today. A case in point would be any of the Banana Splits, but if we’d have to name and shame, Bingo in particular.
But what if your favourite character was one that only you had ever seen and no-one else had heard of?
Although James (Kyle Mooney) is coming towards the end of being a teenager, he only has one friend in the world and that is Brigsby Bear. Brigsby is a character in James’ favourite TV show, which he gets on video cassette every week. The reason he has no other friends is because his mum (Jane Adams) and dad (Mark Hamill) live in an underground bunker and have no interaction with any other folk.
One day his circumstances change, and the police not only discover James, but inform him that his parents aren’t really his parents after all.
James then gets introduced to his real parents, and finally begins to live a normal life. But a further revelation in his life reveals that his favourite show was only ever made for an audience of one – James. Wanting some kind of closure, James decides that he is going to have to make Brigsby Bear – the Movie, for the whole world to see.
Although there’s a darkness to this tale that could have been really quite disturbing, director Dave Mcary, who has mostly written for the TV institution that is Saturday Night Live for the last few years, keeps his film debut remarkably light, considering.
It may have heavy tones of child kidnapping and Stockholm syndrome, but it’s ultimately a story of two people going to great lengths to entertain someone who they love more than anything in the world.
Where James could have spent the whole film venting of how insular his life has been up until this point, he decides that he wants to share his joy for Brigsby with everyone. Mooney taps into the naiveté of his character perfectly, showing his innocence and his infectious, youthful enthusiasm that he accepts his new experiences with.
Brigsby Bear is a unique and delightful watch; it manages to deliver dark themes in an upbeat, optimistic and amusing fashion, making it a proper indie flick with a big, cuddly heart.