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Brigsby Bear (2017)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 23 January 2017 (USA)
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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 ... See full summary »

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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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. Written by Brigsby Bear Productions

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Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief sexuality, drug material and teen partying | See all certifications »
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23 January 2017 (USA)  »

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Following the world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2017 at the Eccles theatre during the Q&A, the cast were asked what attracted them to the project. Mark Hamill talked about how much he liked the script and the originality of the story, but also joked: 'Also, I actually had lines. You know, that's always a bonus for me'. This is a reference to the fact that all of his lines were cut from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015). See more »

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User Reviews

 
An (instant) Lonely Island classic
26 January 2017 | by (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

One of Brigsby Bear's opening title cards reads "Lonely Island Classics", in the style of the "Sony Pictures Classics" logo familiar to art house-goers. For good reason. Like its producers from the Lonely Island and the rest of its team, Brigsby Bear will be an instant classic for the right reason: its bigheartedness.

A reward of being generous and brave is the opportunity to work with others who are, too. And so director Dave McCary, co-writer Kevin Costello, and creator-star Kyle Mooney—lifelong friends and colleagues—have assembled a crack team of their SNL collaborators, Upright Citizens Brigade founder Matt Walsh, ex-spy Claire Danes, Jedi Knight Mark Hamill, and of course The Lonely Island: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Brigsby Bear is an entree-sized portion of soul food for creatives, but it's still a comedy. To that end, bold-faced names like straight man Beck Bennett and fuddy-duddy Walsh generously play to type.

The film opens with the children's TV series Brigsby Bear. It features a Teddy Ruxpin- like bear, Brigsby, who travels the galaxy defending mankind while teaching dubious life lessons. James Pope (Mooney) is enthralled, but the show seems pitched at viewers 15 years his junior. We learn that James' passion for Brigsby isn't the only thing keeping him in his room. He lives with his parents in a desert bunker. Surfacing requires a gas mask. Like James' vast library of Brigsby VHS tapes, the family ritual of shaking hands before dinner seems an accommodation to an apocalypse.

Not so. The FBI arrive, informing James that he was kidnapped at birth. Brigsby Bear has been the secret work of his captors, for his eyes only. As James is reintegrated into his birth family and society, he proves guileless but remarkably well-adapted. Why? Brigsby. And so James takes on the real world the only way he knows how: by continuing the legacy of Brigsby as a filmmaker. Doubters become converts. We're reminded that childlike curiosity is a feature, not a bug. And both films find room in their hearts for even the villain (Hamill).

So what are the Lonely Island classics, and what kinship have they with Brigsby Bear? Start with Stork Patrol (https://youtu.be/rH9giCg3Nro) or O.C. parody The 'Bu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODz2rUXpKWw), and you'll see that awkwardness has always been central to the trio's charm. When they graduated to SNL, they doubled down, and the likes of Rihanna (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_W_xLWtNa0) and Justin Timberlake (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwCbbMgp3Lw) joined them to check their cool at the door. So it's no surprise to hear Brigsby Bear's creators mention The Lonely Island as revered big sibs. They are fellow travelers, and we're lucky to come along for the ride.

Water seeks its level, and the goodwill at the film's Sundance premiere spilled into the audience. IMDb founder Col Needham, a genuine movie lover happy to watch five a day, was often the first to laugh—giving the rest of the audience permission to do the same. During a post-screening Q&A, McCary was asked about a scene where James is asked who's on his t-shirt. It's Brigsby. "It's Brigsby," he replies. The camera pans down, revealing on the shirt: "IT'S BRIGSBY." The joke had killed. True to the film's esprit de corps, McCary called out his cousin to stand and get credit for it.

And as for the Sony Pictures Classics spoof, Taccone seemed genuinely tickled by the size of the laugh it had garnered—and was quick to give credit to Schaffer. Thankfully, SPC was quicker to the draw than their trademark lawyers. They'll be releasing Brigsby Bear this summer.


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