‘Brigsby Bear’ is a funny, strange ode to creativity and healing – Orange County Register

At least James Pope was kidnapped by a couple who thought ahead.

While being raised from baby to man inside a survivalist bunker in the Utah desert, James’ intellect and imagination were constantly stimulated by the adventures of “Brigsby Bear,” a big cuddly teddy who taught life lessons and advanced calculus while battling space villains in a cheesy sci-fi TV series that, unbeknownst to James, was never seen by anyone else but him. James’ loving, abducting “dad” produced the show with minimal means at a nearby warehouse.

That’s the setup for the melancholy comic drama also called “Brigsby Bear,” which takes a simultaneously serious and deadpan facetious look at post-hostage trauma and is somehow also a heartwarming delight.

“Saturday Night Live’s” Kyle Mooney strikes a perfect pitch of bemused geekiness as James, who, after being rescued from the happy captivity he’s always known and reunited with his unfamiliar real family (Matt Walsh’s concerned father, Michaela Watkins’ emotional mother, Ryan Simpkins’ teen sister, who’s mortified to suddenly have this awkward adult brother), really only wants to see the next episode of his favorite program.

Of course, that’s also James’ defense mechanism against this big, new outer world full of terrifying strangeness — and the occasional pleasing discovery of friendly party buddies and friendlier girls intrigued by his potentially sexy damage. But he’s also dedicated his life to poring over the internal logic and deep inner meaning of the “Brigsby” episodes, and like a hopeless “Star Trek” or “Doctor Who” addict, he’s not about to give up his religion (it’s instructive that James’ “real dad” is played by Mark Hamill). So when he finally understands the reality behind what he’s watched all his life, James sets about doing what any true believer would feel they had to: Making his own “Brigsby Bear” movie.

The resulting production process is hilarious, and…

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