First Hit: A very creative interesting film about a young man coming to terms with his past.
The first thing about this film when watching the initial scenes are that James (Kyle Mooney), and his so called mom and dad, Ted and April Mitchum (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams respectively) are odd people. They live as a family in an underground bunker in the middle of nowhere (looks like a high-desert area in the southwest part of the United States).
James is obsessed with the "Brigsby Bear" videos he watches on an old VCR player. Afterwards, he writes up a synopsis of the video and posts the synopsis on a blog site using a very old, out of date, portable computer. He’s all alone except for his parents and never seems to go outside. Stealing away one night, with a gas mask on, he ventures outside. While watching the sky on top of the bunker’s concrete entrance, he sees the flashing lights of police cars in the distance. Panicking he goes back into the bunker to wake up his parents.
However, he's too late and the police are inside the bunker. He’s taken to a police station where Detective Vogel (Greg Kinnear) tells him he was abducted as a baby and that Ted and April aren't his real parents. He’s introduced to his real parents Greg and Louise Pope (Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins respectively). He also has a sister Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins) who is very standoffish to James because she suddenly has an older brother who is weird and not cool. As a teenage girl, it is horrible to have a geeky strange older brother who's name is plastered all over the news.
Greg and Louise take James to see and work with a psychologist named Emily (Claire Danes) who insists that James must begin the process of forgetting about Brigsby Bear. Although he asks everyone else about Brigsby, he discovers that no one else has ever seen Brigsby Bear. Then he learns that his former Dad created all the Brigsby videos to teach him life lessons in addition to reading, math, and the importance of right and wrong.
James has grown up with Brigsby as his only touchstone to life outside of Ted and April, so he decides to do a film to help him understand it all. The film he hopes to make will complete the Brigsby Bear story. When he shares this idea with Aubrey’s friends they offer to help him make this film.
The rest of the film is about creating new friendships by creating this film together. Even Detective Vogel gets into the act. The way this unfolds is interesting and only until we get close to the end of the film do we really see how this is James’ way of saying "goodbye" to the life he once had and saying "hi" to the life he is entering.
The film’s creative naivete, as witnessed by the way both sets of parents are characterized, shows how James is a mirror of his parents and a reflection of the film he creates. This makes this movie captivatingly perfect.
Mooney was excellent as the partially blank tablet young man trying to find his way into a world he knows little about. Hamill was strong as the surrogate dad and the evil sun. Walsh was puzzlingly good. I was puzzled because he reflected a certain level of spacy-ness himself. There were times I thought he as putting on an act and other times I felt true and solid engagement to the role. Watkins was clearly less puzzling and good in this role. Simpkins was excellent. I thought she did an excellent job of being put off by James presence as well as embracing him as she learns more about him. Danes was solid as a therapist who lacked clear empathy towards James and his path to grow. Kinnear was excellent as the detective who began to see James and support his efforts to move his life forward his way. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. was fantastic as Aubrey’s friend who is the first to be open to James and his story. Their interactions while building the film and at the party were priceless. Alexa Demie as another one of Aubrey’s friends who takes James under her wings and was excellent. Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney wrote this interesting script and Dave McCary’s direction gave it all life.
Overall: I thought this was a very creative and bold film.