Every person reading this article should take the next suggestion seriously. Drop everything you are doing, buy a ticket to the movie Brigsby Bear, and avoid any plot spoilers or details possible. This review will attempt to avoid any spoiling details, but I still recommend as blind a viewing as possible.
Brigsby Bear premiered in January at Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and hit American theaters in late July.
Directed by Dave McCary, the movie stars an all-star cast including Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, and Kyle Mooney. Mooney stars as the film’s main character, “James Mitchum,” as he goes through a paradigm shift of extreme proportions.
Mooney, known mostly for his performance on Saturday Night Live since 2013, holds his own in a bold way next to his A-list Brigsby co-stars. Mooney’s characters in his sketch comedy are often heartbreakingly sincere young men who lack a certain social agility, making their on-screen interactions hilarious and difficult to watch.
This unmoving ability of Mooney to stare the audience down and force them to absorb the awkward seamlessly fits into his performance as James in Brigsby Bear.
In every scene of the film, the actors perfectly balance the sincerity of the characters with the humor and absurdity of the circumstances. The film focuses on a family in distress as they try to make the right choices for their adult son, but his perspective and interests force the conversation to be consistently silly and difficult.
Every on-screen moment has an undertone of unabashed love and honesty.
By refusing to make the social interactions in Brigsby Bear any easier to watch, the film provides the audience with an exciting role as a spectator. Though the first third of the film merits mostly cringes and whimpers from the audience, as Mooney’s character grows, so too does the sympathy of the viewer.
The cringes slowly turn into smiles, which turn into laughter, which turns into tears. Because the movie’s deepest struggle is a purely emotional journey, the viewing experience ends up being one of exhilarating catharsis without the overt feel-good tropes of most block-busting emotional modern movies.
Now get to a theater and let your eyes feast on their work of art before it’s too late.