Brigsby Bear is the Best Mark Hamill Movie of 2017

first_img ‘Ori and The Blind Forest’ Brings More Xbox Indie Goodness to SwitchThe Kids’ Video Games Are All Right at NYU Game Center Student Showcase Stay on target What sounds like a spoiler for upcoming indie movie Brigsby Bear is really just the premise. But if you’re especially sensitive look away now.Brigsby Bear stars Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney as James Pope, a man who unknowingly spent his entire life raised by kidnappers only to be returned to his real family. As he awkwardly attempts to integrate into the real world, he discovers his beloved TV show obsession Brigsby Bear was actually a thinly veiled scheme by his fake parents to control him with blunt and bizarre life lessons. It’s like a cross between 2015’s Room and my own Street Sharks prank.It sounds silly, and it often is but the film grapples with the legitimate tragedy at the heart of its comedic premise, even if there are few real consequences. Instead of your typical man-child, Mooney’s James is more Kimmy Schmidt as played by Napoleon Dynamite, using weird yet earnest obsessions to deal with actual mental trauma. And rather than have the young people James relates to wind up cruelly mocking him, the film unironically promotes some really chill teen bonding. The entire movie (co-written by Mooney) hinges on Mooney’s performance, and he does an admirable balancing sweet, off-putting, funny, sad, and sheltered but not pathetic or annoying to the point of cringe-worthy.Then there’s Brigsby Bear himself. Looking like a Five Nights at Freddy’s character come to life, the fake TV segments provide some excellent surreal children’s TV schlock. Brigsby is like Barney the Dinosaur starring in Flash Gordon serials (or low-budget public access Star Wars, which then makes the casting a great meta-joke). There are wizards and spaceships and evil faces in the Sun. And most are voiced by Mark Hamill, who also plays James’s kidnapper fake father. Who wouldn’t want him as a dad? More than a nerd delight, it’s a great use of Hamill as both an accomplished screen and voice actor. Plus he’s got his Old Luke Skywalker thing going on now.The extensive, confusing, stupid Brigsby Bear lore serves a real point in the narrative, and not just because Mooney constantly saying “Brigsby” like a vocal tic is always funny. James is obsessed with the show since it was the only thing he knew growing up. He’s memorized all the tapes and storylines. But when he discovers the show is never returning since the creators are in jail, and that all the other “fans” were his kidnappers role-playing, he wants to share his obsession with the real world. Once he learns that movies exist, he tries to create a Brigsby Bear finale movie, and his quiet but unbridled passion gets him support from others, even if they doubt this is the best thing for his mental health.In these sections Brigsby Bear becomes an intriguing allegory for how to relate to art. For fandom, art is made by these inscrutable surrogate gods/parents that sometimes hurt them. James can’t help but turn his Brigsby script into an accidental metaphor for his kidnapping, similar to how outsider artists can’t help but put their own obsessions into their work. But the art is still meaningful to them, meaningful enough to want to reclaim. The shared joy and cathartic therapy of making art, even “bad art,” is what ultimately cuts through very understandable conflicts and unites the characters. Images of James in a giant cartoon head also recall the Michael Fassbender film Frank, also about a strange and introverted but sweet outsider artist.I feel very strongly that art largely belongs to its original creators and that fans need to accept their subservient role in that relationship, but I can admit that Brigsby Bear makes a compelling argument against that. As someone who also suffered a great deal attempting to make a schlocky movie for the internet with young friends, I related a lot to James’s struggle, even if my journey never involved me living out One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.Speaking of my student film, after my viewing I did notice that Brigsby Bear is very much the kind of slight indie movie I saw many peers attempt to make at film school, and not just because Mooney sort of looks like those peers. Sure it has famous actors and backing from Lord & Miller as well as The Lonely Island, but the basic arc is the same when you get reductive about it.A quirky, sad guy and the square “normal” people in his life meet each other halfway and teach each other about really living, with laughs and tears along the way. Think Our Idiot Brother or Safety Not Guaranteed or Martian Child or Radio or K-Pax. But it’s a formula that works, and Brigsby Bear fills it with such great specific and funny details (and Tim Heidecker) that I didn’t let the familiarity bother me all that much. And again, it has Mark Hamill voicing a creepy animatronic bear, so how can you go wrong?Brigsby Bear expands to more theaters July 28th.Now here are some of our other favorite famous fictional bears.View as: One Page Slides1/121. Famous fictional bear Brigsby Bear.2. Famous parallel dimension bears the Berenstain Bears.3. Famous King of Iron Fist bear Kuma.4. Famous parasite bear Yogi Bear.5. Famous kung-fu panda bears the Pandaren.6. Famous Bill Murray bear Baloo.7. Famous Coke shill bear this polar bear.8. Famous talking rag bear Fozzie Bear.9. Famous talk show bear Gentle Ben.10. Famous European immigrant bear Paddington Bear.11. Famous brother bear Ted.12. Famous Tetsuya Nomura bear Winnie the Pooh.last_img