Brigsby Bear (4 stars)

Brigsby Bear

Mark Hamill and Greg Kinnear feature in this weird and wonderful dramedy from Dave McCary

A side-project from members of the Saturday Night Live team, Brigsby Bear is a weird and often wonderful comedy drama that critiques modern pop culture. A nostalgic eulogy for a non-existent children's television show from the 1980s, Dave McCary's charmer has the wit and heart to score a definite cult hit.

Brigsby Bear Adventures is the title of a TV show that only one person sees: James Pope (co-writer Kyle Mooney), a man-child unaware that he was kidnapped as a boy by April and Ted Mitchum (Jane Adams and Mark Hamill). When his captors are arrested, James is sent back to his real parents, but raised on a daily dose of Ted's homemade show, James struggles to adjust to the real world and yearns for the convoluted pleasures of Brigsby's fictional universe.

With modern entertainment frequently descending into fan-boy service, Brigsby Bear's commentary is timely and caustic. The way that James blithely relates all his problems to the indecipherable world of the show offers neat satire on how today's juvenile culture informs adult life. Writers Mooney and Kevin Costello strike comedy gold with tough cop Vogel (Greg Kinnear), who reveals that he's a frustrated actor and offers to help James by spouting gibberish as a hooded sage very similar to Luke Skywalker in the current Star Wars sequels.

A summer release in the US, Brigsby Bear has presumably been held back in the UK to cash in on the obvious links with The Last Jedi. But McCary's film is no rip-off, instead it's an intelligent and sympathetic consideration of the arrested development of today's audiences. Well-judged cameos from Andy Samberg and Claire Danes, plus SNL comic Beck Bennett sweeten the pot; as a film, Brigsby Bear is as lovable as the title character himself.

General release from Fri 8 Dec.

Brigsby Bear

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 1h 37min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Dave McCary
  • Cast: Kyle Mooney, Greg Kinnear, Claire Danes, Jane Adams, Mark Hamill

James (Mooney) was kidnapped as a boy by April (Adams) and Ted (Hamill) and was raised partly on a TV show that Ted made just for him, Brigsby Bear Adventures; as a man, James has to adjust to the real world. Weird and wonderful comedy drama which intelligently and sympathetically considers arrested development.