A love letter to fandom. Kyle Mooney plays James, an earnest twenty-something who lives an isolated but happy life with his parents. Every day since childhood, James has watched his favorite show, Brigsby Bear Adventures, which resembles what we might remember from early 80s children’s television, complete with convoluted plots, magic crystals, clunky costumes and obvious green screen effects. It’s charming and recognizable, and the fact that James values the show gives it value in our eyes as well. But not all is as it seems, and pretty soon, Brigsby Bear Adventures goes dark, and James’ life changes forever. The less I say about the rest of the movie, the better.
An ode to creativity., Mooney, his co-writer Kevin Costello, and director Dave McCary were making movies together as schoolkids, and this film seems like the perfect continuation of that. But it also expresses a deeper understanding for why people create in the first place, whether it’s to work out their own issues or to share what makes them happy and try to convey that to others through art. The film knows that creativity at its core is very personal, and once James decides to make his own ending to the Brigsby Bear saga, we watch other characters exposed to the show for the first time with the full knowledge that their reaction has the power to invigorate James on his creative quest or to completely crush him. Brigsby Bear doesn’t necessarily succeed at every point (the audience may at times find themselves cringing at an overabundance of earnestness) but its general message about creativity comes through loud and clear, and as a bonus, you may find yourself standing in the parking lot after the movie, questioning your own cynical reaction to some of the sweetest stuff in the film. I know I did.