Film Review: BRIGSBY BEAR (USA 2017)

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BRIGSBY BEARAfter being freed from the kidnappers he thought were his parents, a man sets out to make a movie of the only TV show he has ever known.

Director: Dave McCary
Writers: Kevin Costello, Kyle Mooney
Stars: Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, Kyle Mooney

Review by Gilbert Seah

Who is BRIGSBY BEAR? The name indicated a TV cartoon show for kids. That is exactly what Brigsby Bear is, but why has no one heard of this bear? The answer is that Brigsby Bear is a children’s show character totally concocted and made by kidnapper parents to keep the child occupied.

When the film opens, we seen the now adult still kidnapped James Pope (Kyle Mooney) watching an episode of Brigsby Bear on television through VCR cassette tapes. James is shown having dinner with his parents, Ted (STAR WARS’ Mark Hamill) and April (Jane Adams) who practice odd rituals. It is soon revealed that James Pope was kidnapped from a hospital as a baby and since childhood all the way to adulthood has known nothing about the world except Brigsby Bear, a children’s show character fabricated by his kidnapper parents. One day, James is rescued and brought out into the real world where he learns that Brigsby Bear is not a real children’s show. Confused and baffled by these turn of events, James sets out to make a Brigsby Bear movie to show the world what he has learned.

The main flaw of the film is the film’s credibility. The credibility factor is sacrificed for the film’s charm. Director McCary goes all out to show that there is no badness in every character of his story. The kidnappers are revealed to be good hearted people whose only sin is wanting to love their own child. They even admit to knowing their abduction of James being wrong, yet they are desperate to love. For all the trouble that James creates in the environment around him, everyone is forgiving from his family (his sister initially shown as an independent no-nonsense sibling; his doting parents) to all his new friends. Everyone also aids James to make his Brigsby film. The title of his finished film, comically called “BRIGSBY BEAR, the film my friend help me make” tells the whole story.

It is difficult to figure out the intentions of BRIGSBY BEAR. Perhaps the message is that there is goodness in everyone, even if you have kidnapped a baby and kept it for your own for a full twenty years.

The most enjoyable bits of the film are the BRIGSBY BEAR episodes. The cartoon bear costume and his adventures saving the world from the evil Sunsnatcher are nothing short of hilarious – with lots of corniness thrown in for good measure. The special effects are crayon drawn but colourful enough.

BRIGSBY BEAR proves that corny can be funny! The good intentioned film over emphasizes the point of how good intentions triumphs over evil. The film ends up entertaining enough if one can stomach the over saccharine sweetness.

Small indie films like this one and previous successes like NAPOLEON DYNAMITE featuring geeky protagonists have a niche audience which somehow do reasonably well at the box-office. The well-intentioned BRIGSBY BEAR should do likewise.


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