An imaginary life

An imaginary life

Review: Brigsby Bear

(M) Kyle Mooney, Claire Danes, Mark Hamil, Greg Kinnear

For audiences who are still working through the trauma of 2016’s Room, it may be hard to consider laughing through the experience of a recently released abductee. Brigsby Bear may prove to be needed therapy. Mooney and Costello’s script is respectful of all parties involved in this story and proves to be a heart-warming journey as protagonist James Pope (Kyle Mooney) adapts to life after living in seclusion for 25 years.

James and his parents live in a geo-dome outside the watchful eye of the world. This secluded home is the only life that James has ever known, but Ted (Mark Hamill) and April (Jane Adams) assure their son that they are safer underground than out in the contaminated world. His existence includes exceptional boredom and continual studies but at least he has Brigsby Bear. The multiple episodes of the children’s show give James solace, entertainment and comradery throughout his subterranean life.

Then one night the local police department invades their home and James’ life changes forever. He has to come to the traumatic reality that Ted and April are not his real parents. While wrestling with this truth, what is even more devastating is that Ted made The Brigsby Bear Adventures solely for him and there will no more episodes. James must come to terms with these huge lifestyle changes and consider what he is going to do to save himself and his favourite bear.

The innovative trio of Mooney, McCray and Costello have managed to begin their independent film careers with a strong script and power packed cast. With Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, Greg Kinnear and Andy Sandberg on board with the project, this little indie film comes with quite a pedigree. Each star manages to add to the picture without overpowering the focus on the central character or by distracting from the engaging storyline. Rooney manages to hold his own on screen by portraying the innocence and drive that James needs to work through the trauma he experiences.

The special effects and some of the staging has the feel of a local teen production, but that merely adds to the quaintness of the overall experience. Even the age difference between James and most of his friends manages to move pass the creepiness factor, because of his psychological situation.

Brigsby Bear
is far from a perfect film, but it does offer a winning combination of compassion and character development that makes for an enjoyable entertainment choice this season.

Even with the focus of Brigsby Bear has on children’s programming; this film is for mature audiences only. 


Looking Deeper

One of the blessings of life is the gift of the imagination. From the limitless well of the creative process come songs, stories and dreams that have been part of the human experience since the beginning of time.

Some say that certain people are more imaginative than others, but this reality does not diminish the fact that all of mankind was given this gift. The human imagination exposes the psychological and spiritual aspects of life can only be attributed to God.

What are you doing with your imagination? Is it to honour the one who has given you this gift?

‘And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.’ Genesis 11:6 

‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ Philippians 4:8


Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger.


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