Saturday Night Live comedian Kyle Mooney stars as James, a man-child who lives with his so-called parents played by Mark Hamill and Jane Adams. He is never allowed to go outside his bunker home and obsesses over a children’s show named Brigsby Bear. However, when the cops come to take away his parents, he comes to a shock that he was kidnapped as a baby, the show was made by Hamill, and was only shown to James as a way of manipulation. When he reunites with his real parents and his therapist encourages him to move on with his life, he prefers to watch the newest episode of Brigsby Bear. But with the show’s “producers” locked behind bars, he decides to give the show an ending by making a shoestring budget Brigsby Bear movie.
The acting in this film was really fantastic. Especially Greg Kinnear as the Detective, Matt Walsh as James’ real father, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as James’ new friend Spencer and Ryan Simpkins as James’ sister Aubrey. But the two who really stole the film in every shot are Kyle Mooney as James, and Mark Hamill as his kidnapper. Mooney brings a child-like innocence with a massive passion for a kid’s show and making the film, making him a likeable character. There are similarities between himself and people who are obsessed with pop culture, and it does show both the good and bad in terms of those people. He’s incredibly passionate about Brigsby Bear to the point of denying the fact that this obsession is bad for him, but his love of the show does influence him to be creative himself with his own film.
This film focuses on James’ character development with his own type of therapy as he moves on from his old life as a manipulated hostage. This is evident in accepting the idea that he can’t go back home in the old bunker, and his attempt of giving his TV idol associated with most of his life a satisfying ending. As for Hamill, he does play up the caring father figure side so much that you would never see him as someone who would kidnap kids, so that surprise really does hit hard, especially for James. His true parents are pretty strong characters in this film, as they don’t come off as bad people who want to destroy his fun, but they want him to move away from something that brings back a dark time in the past.
Overall, I loved this film for its great acting, interesting concept, likeable characters, some very funny moments (namely the Brigsby Bear show clips), and its tribute to pop culture and creativity.