Sundance Review: 'Brigsby Bear' is an amusing tale of one man's obsession

Kyle Mooney appears in Brigsby Bear by Dave McCary, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. © 2016 Sundance Institute | photo by Christian Sprenger.

(KUTV) Dave McCary, a writer/director for “Saturday Night Live,” teamed with longtime friend Kyle Mooney (who so happens to be a cast member of “SNL”) for this unusual comedy about James, a man who for 25 years has lived in a bunker with who he believed to be his parents only to learn that he was abducted as a baby and the world isn’t the toxic wasteland as he was taught. Most shocking of all, at least for James, is the fact that his favorite television show, “Brigsby Bear Adventures,” was made specifically for him.

Having spent his entire life obsessed about all things Brigsby, James has an extremely difficult time adjusting to his new life with his real family. Haunted by the unfinished adventures of Brigsby, James decides that he is going to complete Brigsby’s story by making a film.

While the initial set up and tone is reminiscent of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Brigsby Bear” is its own beast. Co-written by Mooney and Kevin Costello the film isn’t so much about James’ inability to adjust to the outside world as it is about his obsession with completing the story that has essentially been his entertainment and his education. Certainly his lack of social skills and his struggle to understand the world outside of his bunker helps feeds the comedy, but the focus is on his inability to accept life outside of the bunker without having the opportunity to find closure without giving Brigsby some of his own.

“Brigsby Bear” is undeniably goofy and in many way reflects the sort of outsider comedy that made “Napoleon Dynamite” a massive success a little more than a decade ago. I don’t know that “Brigsby Bear” will become the pop culture touchstone that was “Napoleon Dynamite,” but it’s fun and clever enough to have a shot.

As a side note, since the film was shot in and around Salt Lake City, it was a little surreal to watch the premiere of James' sold-out screening of the Brigsby Bear movie at the Tower Theatre in the film while sitting in a sold out screening of "Brigsby Bear" at the Tower Theatre. Wrap your head around that.

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