Sony Pictures Classics definitely has a runaway hit on their hands with Brigsby Bear.
As part of the Laugh programme of films at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, I left the screening of Brigsby Bear with a little tear of joy in my heart at having just witnessed one of the most original, thought-provoking and touching movies of the year – which involves, ahem – child kidnapping.
What’s it all about? Meet James. He’s 25-years-old and lives in an underground bunker in the desert with his parents (father played by none other than Mark Hamill) and they live a bit differently than most of us do. Not only are they completely off-the-grid, they believe that the Earth’s oxygen is poison, shake hands before every meal and are enthusiastically engaged in the only TV program they know and love called – Brigsby Bear.
On one fateful evening, the police raid the bunker and rescue James from his “evil” child-napping parents. Turns out, James was abducted as a baby and his real-life parents have been endlessly searching for him for years. James moves back in the family house with a mother, father and sister he doesn’t know. This, of course, makes for awkward comedy watching James navigate a whole new world that he knows nothing about involving girls, parties, drugs and the police. James’ only real problem with this strange new predicament he’s in is that he’s missing the latest episodes of Brigsby Bear, the television show which was completely produced by his fake father – in which James was the only sole viewer. Having not being deterred from this epic televison fail, James then sets out to finish the Brigsby Bear twenty-five season storyline by producing a full-fledged movie – something he’ll have to learn about completely from Google and with the help a few newfound friends.
Why is this movie so good? I always love films that portray humans struggling and fighting about their passions in life – espeically if they are drenched in symbolism. James may not be standing in front of war tankers or on the front lines of animal rights, but what he’s fighting for is a belief system that helped guide him through life. This is perhaps the underlying message of the whole film here. Although Brigsby Bear was completely fake, the show’s message and child-like Sesame Street-style lessons that it taught helped reinforce very positive ideals in James, when everyone else around him is just caught up in living “normal” bog-standard lives.
To some, this may just be a cute movie about innocence lost, but to me, this movie has very creatively captured the notion that dreamers need to be celebrated, listened to and most importantly – held up in society. For without them, the world simply does not progress. It does not progress unless someone like James (or a dreamer) doesn’t take the risk to pursue a better way of life.
Brigsby Bear is released in cinemas on December 8th following its run on the film festival circuit.