I somehow walked into Brigsby Bear with no foreknowledge of its premise; which is surprising given the cleverness of the premise. Think Room, except there’s no Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay is in his mid-20s, and he’s spent his childhood raised by a children’s television show – complete with puppets and special effects! – for his eyes only.
The film that results dabbles somewhat in an interrogation of trauma, and somewhat in quirky, cringe comedy. Neither mode dominates entirely, but where the film really succeeds is in its examination of the importance of modern pop culture. To James (Kyle Mooney, who also wrote the screenplay), the television series – called Brigsby Bear – his abductor ‘parents’ produced for him is everything.
While the screenplay recognises the inherent humour in this, it’s more interested in empathising with James’ plight. When he sets out to make his own Brigsby Bear movie, it’s about healing and creativity, sure, but it’s also just about how important this television show is to him. People finding meaning in pop culture ephemera is so often met with mockery, so it’s wonderfully refreshing to see it addressed with such compassion. Despite some ropey plotting in the midsection, Brigsby Bear is an unconventional delight.