Starring: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamil, Jane Adams
Directed by: Dave McCary (debut)
Written by: Kevin Costello (debut) and Kyle Mooney (debut)
Replace the main child character from the 2015 Oscar-winning drama “Room” with the cult classic character Napoleon Dynamite and you’ll start getting a rough idea of the darkly funny and quirky realm the comedy “Brigsby Bear” is floating around in. Genuine in its delivery of a unique and strange script, “Brigsby” is an off-beat and surprisingly moving first film starring and co-written by “Saturday Night Live” performer and scribe Kyle Mooney.
In “Brigsby,” Mooney stars as James Pope, a sheltered man living with his parents, whose only real pleasure in life comes from the love and obsession he has with an unusual children’s video series called “Brigsby Bear.” When James finds out the show and, moreover, his life are not what he always thought they were, he is forced to confront his past, build new relationships and create a semblance of normalcy without the comfort of his cute costumed companion.
“Brigsby” is the type of indie film peculiarity you’ll want to go into knowing as little as possible about the plot, which is much deeper and more compassionate that the above paragraph would lead you to believe. If it was a straight drama, it would also be more unsettling, which is why Mooney, first-time co-writer Kevin Costello and first-time director Dave McCary deserve heaps of credit for turning this warped genre mishmash into something as tender and meaningful as they have.
In the lead role, Mooney is incredibly believable and fully committed and is never degraded into a silly gimmick characterization despite his childlike qualities. He wears his heart on his sleeve and the earnestness he conveys is sweet and touching. Some of the secondary characters (Greg Kinnear plays a well-meaning police detective; Claire Danes plays a well-meaning counselor) are a bit too thin to add anything of importance to the narrative, but with Mooney at the helm, “Brigsby” is, as James would put it, dope as shit.