A beautifully understated indie dramedy, “Brigsby Bear”, directed by Dave McCary and produced by The Lonely Island, is a heartfelt and poignant paean to the importance and power of fandom.
When James (Kyle Mooney) finds out that his whole life has been a lie concocted by his kidnappers Ted and April Mitchum (Mark Hamill & Jane Adams) he finds adapting to normal life a real struggle, especially when he finds out that his favourite – and only – TV show, “Brigsby Bear” was just another part of his captor’s fiction.
For a deceptively light film, there’s a lot to unpack in “Brigsby Bear”. The Lonely Island’s best work to date, it sympathetically explores the intensity and emotional investment that comes with fandom, the pressure to conform to society’s expectations, the complex emotions involved in separating the art from the artist and the twisted prism of modern celebrity culture.
It doesn’t really dwell on the underlying trauma of James’ experiences and there’s a conspicuous lack of any real support to help him re-assimilate into modern life, but it doesn’t really matter because this isn’t a movie overly concerned with dark realism, preferring instead a sun-dappled romanticism to essay its love letter to hobby filmmaking and fan fiction. Quite simply, it’s the best film about the making of a film this year. Oh, hai “The Disaster Artist”.
In the current tumultuous climate of toxic fandom, “Brigsby Bear” reminds us of the important, creative and positive side of pop culture in providing a welcoming community of likeminded enthusiasts. If you’ve ever found solace from loneliness or isolation or the weight of the world by embracing a fictional universe and immersing yourself in a fandom, “Brigsby Bear” is a warm, comforting hug of a movie that reassures you you’re far from alone.