Brigsby Bear: Dope As Shit
Review by Aaron Haughton
Brigsby Bear comes from the minds of childhood friends and SNL regulars, Kyle Mooney and Dave McCary; although, it's not as overtly funny, or dumb, as you'd expect an SNL-fronted film to be. In fact, it's mostly charming and sweet; an optimistic valentine to the obsessive compulsive, an ode to the pariah, a tale of friendship and family, a mashup of Be Kind Rewind and Little Miss Sunshine.
There's a lot of heart and sincerity pumped into this picture, which most likely shines through because of how close in reality it is for Mooney and McCary, both of whom jumpstarted their careers just by doing their own thing and making videos together. It's also worth pointing out that there's not a single cynical note during the whole indie opus, either.
The aspect of doing something creative and fun with friends and family, even if it only make sense to you and your inner circle, is a huge portion of the narrative. It's something that resonated well with me, having grown up making shorts with my friends whenever they stayed over. I'm sure a lot of other theatergoers will have the same immediate connection I did, but there's still a lot to chew on for those that never had the aspirations to pick up a camcorder and do stupid shit with their friends.
The film also draws upon our connection to pop culture and wanting to use that as a connection point with other individuals. James (Kyle Mooney's character) looks at Brigsby as special thing, believing that it's special because other people are also out there in the world watching it, which makes it important to him; however, once he's removed from his distorted reality and planted into the real world, he realizes no one has ever heard of the Brigsby Bear show, let alone seen it.
While in captivity, his worldview was bigger and more romantic. But by taking him away from this sheltered world, it allows him to harness his own creativity, and make his own reality and version of the show, which enables him to connect with individuals through his passion and production of his version of Brigsby.
Another thing that makes this film so wonderful is seeing Mark Hamill showcasing his wicked array of voices. Yes, that means a little cameo of the Joker voice, which comes in the form of Sunscorcher, the evil entity that threatens the universe's existence, which only Brigsby Bear can protect.
While Hamill's voices are a nice aspect, Mooney is the real star here. He does such an amazing job of playing the socially awkward man-child, stuttering and tripping over words and doing the Bad Boy Bubby thing of repeating heard phrases, like "dope as shit," which always gave me a chuckle.
The film is a little slow to get moving and is more of a drama than comedy for the first 30 minutes. It's not until the 2nd act that things take a shift into the more overtly comedic, but still in a very dry, wry fashion, which my theater crowd seemed receptive to. Most, if not all, of the humorous elements derive from people reacting to Mooney's deadpan, which he plays with authentic skill. There are a few gut-busting moments in the whole 100 minutes, but I'd say it's first and foremost a drama with strong notes of lighthearted comedy.
The third act lagged a bit for me, but it eventually found the appropriate place to land, ending up in a place of cutesy sweetness and charm. It's a film that fills you up and warms the soul. It's final message is that it's okay to be who you are, even if that means that you're different.
After the credits began to roll, I was filled with nostalgia for those simple days of shooting dumb D.I.Y. shorts with my pals. I think that the film will charm its way into a lot of people's hearts, but won't necessarily be prominently featured on the year's top 10 lists, simply due to this year's strong contenders. I'd say that this film is best seen in a theater, but it's not wholly a theater experience and would fair just as well when seen in the comforts of home. Either way, it's a dope as shit viewing experience.
Rating: 4 gunner-foxes outta 5.
What do you think? Did Brigsby Bear work for you? Was it too dry for you to enjoy? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!