Film Review: Brigsby Bear

Director Dave McCary’s feature debut Brigsby Bear is a funny and surprisingly heart-warming film. McCary and writers Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney get the tone right. 

James is obsessed with children’s television show Brigsby Bear. The show abruptly ends when James’ life changes drastically. Nevertheless, he sets out

Given the subject matter, there are a number of ways in which the film could have gone wrong. Thankfully, the filmmakers get it right; towing a line between emotional and humorous. Brigsby Bear is funny without diminishing what is a dark premise. 

Jokes in the film hit the mark. Some of the humour is outlandish, but always funny. There a several laugh out loud moments. The screenplay does not simply rely on comedy however. The film has a sweetness that is endearing. The writers and director manage to create a film that is both funny and sweet, but never over sentimental.  

Protagonist James is charming to watch thanks to his naivety and enthusiasm. The concept of the television show is ripe for humour. Filmmakers acknowledge dark side to the narrative without sobering the tone too significantly. The relationships that James develops are a joy to watch, particularly friendship with Spence and his developing relationship with Aubrey. 

Co-writer Kyle Mooney delivers a great central performance as James. Mark Hamill, Ryan Simpkins, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. are also good. The rendering of VHS footage is a nice touch. Many viewers will be able to identify with nostalgia factor of the television show, but probably not quite to this degree. 

Brigsby Bear offers a sweet story which tackles a potentially harrowing subject in a way that gives joy and laughter, as well as a suitable arc for the protagonist. The film is a great watch. 

Brigsby Bear is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Star Wars Celebration – London

Star Wars Celebration London

I was very excited to be invited to the Star Wars celebration in London yesterday evening, an event which featured a live stream to the Anaheim presentation of the brand new trailer for The Force Awakens, plus a q&a session with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and others. Here is what happened…

R2D2 and C3PO

We were greeted by two ominous-looking Stormtroopers, however Any apprehension was soon eased by the appearance of everyone’s favourite robot duo. C3PO and R2D2 were on hand at the Star Wars Celebration to offer a more friendly welcome. Despite 38 years passing since the release of the first Star Wars film, these two looked sprightly as ever.

Warwick Davis

Before too long, the show began, with Willow Ofgood himself (aka Warwick Davis) presenting the Star Wars Celebration event for the London audience. Davis makes an excellent host; he was highly amusing throughout the evening. After some events for fans, the presentation was about to begin.

Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams

Director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy looked genuinely thrilled to be at the Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim. The emphasis was definitely on going back to Star Wars’ roots with The Force Awakens. Numerous times, J.J. Abrams, mentioned going back to the original trilogy with both the look and the feel of the new film. It definitely felt as if both Abrams and Kennedy wished to steer away from memories of the less well-received prequel trilogy of the late nineties/early noughties.

Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and J.J. Abrams

After answering some questions, it was time to bring out more guests including the makers of the new R2D2, plus the robot himself and B8, a new robot addition to the Star Wars franchise. Fans at the Star Wars Celebration then got to meet the main stars of The Force Awakens; John Boyega (Finn), Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron). All three spoke of their memories of Star Wars growing up, and their excitement of working on the film at being at the Star Wars Celebration.

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels

Next, it was time for some old faces to appear, in the form of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Anthony Daniels (C3PO) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). The cast from the original franchise spoke of their affection for the films and their joy at coming back for the new films. The main event arrived at the every end of the presentation, with the first screening of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer.

Reception to the trailer was extremely positive. Earlier spoken of “retro” aspects are apparent at this new glimpse, with the look of the film a great reflection of the original franchise. There are some wonderful shots, including the desert landscape opening shot, the image of Pol Dameron in the pilot seat (echoing Luke Skywalker) and decaying helmut of Darth Vader. The teaser also posed some interesting questions, particularly in who Luke is speaking to when he talks about family. I would assume it is a child or nephew/niece of his, which posits Rey or Pol Dameron as the likely audience of this speech. Then again, this teaser gives away so little that this may be a red herring. The final shot of Han Solo and Chewbacca, unsurprisingly got the biggest cheer of all; fans were certainly glad to see the return of this duo.

After the excitement of seeing the new teaser on the big screen at Empire Leicester Square, it was time for the Star Wars Celebration to conclude. There was a definite air of excitement about the new footage at the event; the venue was buzzing with discussion of what was screened as I left, goodies in hand.

Star Wars Celebration London memorabilia Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in cinemas on 18th December 2015.