BRIGSBY BEAR [2017]

Slightly borrowing a concept from other films, this is a story founded in a world of fantasy, much like James’ favourite show, Brigsby Bear. But no one he meets has heard of his favourite show once he ventures out into the world; a man new to society and all its unwritten rules. His confusion increases as he cannot find a single person who has heard of Brigsby, not to mention his awkward nature around other people.

After awkwardly socialising with friends of his sister at a party- one his sister didn’t want to invite James to- he wakes up, lying on the floor. For the first time in his life he drank alcohol, he took a pill without thinking and after a delusion or nightmare – you choose – he passed out. This is the first time we meet a character who doesn’t judge James. This person is Spencer, who greets James as he slowly wakes up. Until this point, everyone thought James he was weird, strange, someone to avoid. But Spencer doesn’t care. This may be a story based in fantasy, but it is has some very human, important themes that make the movie, as the plot is a little thin.

James decides he wants to make a Brigsby movie, and beings to storyboard obsessively. Spencer sees it and tells James that it is great, and that he had always wanted to make a home movie. He starts working with a video editor to enhance the movie. Meanwhile James’ family become worried that Brigsby has become an unhealthy obsession for James.

Another important moment occurs as he leaves to shoot a scene. His sister asks if she can come with James and Spencer as they shoot a scene that is a fair hike away, and it is obvious that she really wants to come. As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. She did that, felt bad, and subsequently accepted him as he is, no matter how strange he might be. Her friends have accepted him too and for the first time James is experiencing real happiness.

His desire and single-minded attention to make his movie becomes infectious, as Spencer and the group have fun playing with props. His earlier trouble with socialising may also resonate with those who have similar troubles. Underneath an almost silly-sounding plot are some moments that will cause you look at yourself, and question if you are like any of the characters.

Greg Kinnear is memorable as a policeman/actor for James; his scene in James’ movie involves a robe over his head, covering everything but a long beard. An obvious homage to Star Wars, which incidentally is a movie that James hasn’t seen.

A unique spin on a used concept, Brigsby Bear is intriguing.  It has a few significant, poignant moments, but it is largely forgettable. All the characters are decidedly one-dimensional. The friends James makes; we learn nothing about them, apart from the conversation James has with Spencer about movies. That is all. We don’t really get to know James either, just that obvious fact that he loves Brigsby the Bear.


So who is James? Is this based in the real world, or is it a fantasy, a delusion; a result of James’ obsession with Brigsby? While this does have some tricks up its sleep, Brigsby is a fun, feel good movie that unfortunately is held down by some lazy writing, resulting in characters that are as thin as fishing line. It will make you smile though as James follows his dream of making a Brigsby Bear movie.

Two short of a sixer

4/6