Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, brief sexuality, drug material and teen partying. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 28, 2017 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
This sincere comedy from Dave McCary has an impervious pretense about it with social implications surrounding creativity and acceptance countering its contrivances with little condescension or posturing.
Still, Brigsby Bear may be a tough nut for some audiences to crack from its rotation around the glum and heartwarming in almost spoof-like fashion.
James (Kyle Mooney of Saturday Night Live, showcasing convincing sensitivity and naïf wit) has been in a basement since birth thanks to a couple (Jane Adams, Mark Hamill showing off his voice-over skill and playing a toymaker here) for a quarter of a century learning of the outside world from the titular children's show (on old VHS tapes) made for him only by his captors; the show (with some 700 episodes) imparts lessons about 'curiosity' and the 'familial'. There is an on-line blogging of sorts about his fandom from what may look like a word-processor from over a generation ago.
James has a well-adjusted quality even if he knows little of the real world having stuck to a routine and good at math until FBI intervenes and a detective with an inner-actor in him (Greg Kinnear) offers him a Coke. And, his rescue leads him back to his biological parents (Michaela Watkins, Matt Walsh) with a counselor (Claire Danes) to assist in the transition process.
The crux of Brigsby co-written by Mooney and Kevin Costello has James on a quest to complete what he was watching in his isolated milieu aided by younger surly sister (Ryan Simpkins) and her friends, especially Spence (Jorge Lendeburg, Jr.) gifted in the animation department. They're hip to today's technical, social-media savvy society.
Culling together a lost childhood to exact an appeasing conclusion in learning independence and reaching a personal denouement isn't as original or endearing as the characters. Uncomfortably amusing interacts abound in the fish-out-of-water construct in what has elements of The Truman Show, Be Kind Rewind and Lars and the Real Girl. As well as a dollop of Frank, even the more traumatically riveting Room provide amusement and good turns from Kinnear, Lendeburg, Jr. as well as a waitress (Kate Lyn Sheil) who appeared in the production of his influential, if disturbing dad's production.
If this offbeat Bear is a little much to handle from the set-up or even at the end, an innocuous warmth permeates what could have been flintier, and it's hard not to get wrapped up in what Mooney drolly evinces through James however less shaded he is when it comes to real, raw emotions wound-up in a man-child.