Friday, December 1, 2023
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Brigsby Bear Review

I fear fandom theory and the consequences of it. A devoted love to a series or saga of entertainment is good in moderation, but there are extremes that should never be reached. My distress is that, one day, I’ll wake up and have some savage, frothing psychopath clobber me in the mouth whilst dressed as Marvel’s Iron Man, or be clattered over the head by a monstrous beast wielding a novelty, toy lightsaber. Brigsby Bear, then, for all its faults, constant stops and starts, is a jagged, mediocre look at what happens to those with such overexposure to their beloved items of media that it consumes not just their life and personality, but their goals and ambitions too. There’s something grossly horrifying about that, a mystifying experience that I’m sure would be a fantastic topic to muse upon, but this film from director Dave McCary doesn’t have the depth necessary to do so.

It’s an interesting premise, granted, but so was Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and look what happened there. Brigsby Bear concerns itself with sheltered man-child James Pope (Kyle Mooney) experiencing a world without his beloved fictional character. Through a quick-cut series of stark and traumatising opening moments, we have the whole picture revealed to us, and it doesn’t do much in the way of explaining the many pitfalls and half-baked plot points away. Mooney gives an odd performance, one that’s clearly meant to provide the oddities you’d pick up from living an isolated life with sociopaths, but his weirdness sheds rather rapidly to make way for story progression. He makes for an insufferable lead, a difficult character to connect to, but perhaps that’s a mixture of having little patience for people and not understanding passion for fandoms.

A surprisingly strong cast fails to leave their mark here, and that does strike me as odd. Matt Walsh, Mark Hamill, and Greg Kinnear all lend themselves to this with supporting roles as authority figures, but none of them do much with the time they’re given. Kinnear’s drive as a character is convoluted, stained by the forced whimsy of a script that will either irk pure joy and elation, or miserably annoyance. The latter encroached on me rather rapidly, and I soon found my interest in this piece waning entirely. It’s a miracle I trudged through this one to the very end.

Everything about Brigsby Bear is crafted with care, I just don’t care for it. The performances grated on me, the plot, whilst having an interesting core, is rotting with generic witticisms and progression for its leading characters. It’s that style of modern filmmaking in the drama genre that tries to bring together a light tone and a heavy story, conflicted in what it wishes to do with both its characters and its brief time. Sloppy, but not unwatchable, and certainly not the worst thing you’ll see. Completely forgettable though, leaves about as much impact as you’d expect for a sickly-sweet comedy-drama.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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