Brigsby Bear

Aug 17, 2017

Odd and warm story about creativity.

Brigsby Bear

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: A-

Director: Dave McCary

Screenplay: Kevin Costello, Kyle Mooney (Neighbors 2)

Cast: Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Claire Danes (Shopgirl)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hr 40 min

by John DeSando

“Curiosity is an unnatural emotion.” “Trust only the familial unit.”

Such are the odd exhortations of a fictional bear, in a fictional TV program made especially for James (Kyle Mooney) by his abductor “father” (Mark Hamill), a successful toy inventor. After 25 years of a hermetically sealed environment, James is freed to discover a non-Brigsby world that cares not for eccentricity.

Brigsby Bear is a film full of charm, odd though it is, that reveals the sweet side of creativity with its difficulties and disappointments.  Once James’s real parents get him back after all those years, the process bleeding from the creativity and imagination he has been preparing for over the 25 years.

James’s need to finish the Brigsby episodes, which have already given him a lifetime of perspective on bravery and eccentricity, makes his the alien initially until a chum of his sister begins to realize the genius behind the goofy TV show. The spirit of creativity catches on slowly with family and more rapidly for friends.

Mooney’s work on Saturday Night Live sometimes acting as a child, along with first-time helmer Dave McCary, helps the hero keep a youthful point of view and an innocence that works well with the story’s turn as a caution about persecuting outsiders before you know who they are and what stuff they are made of.

Perhaps the most singular virtue of this indie is lack of pretension and condescension about James’s naiveté and creative gifts. It plays it all straight to salutary effect.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at