Thursday, August 10, 2017

An original delight: Kyle Mooney/Dave McCary's BRIGSBY BEAR opens in So. Florida

Bizarre but finally quite winning, this new film from director Dave McCary (shown below) and co-writer/star Kyle Mooney is so unusual but so consummately conceived and executed that movie buffs -- maybe even some of what we might call "general audiences" -- will embrace the film, if at first gingerly, at last whole-heartedly. The movie, which was co-written by Kevin Costello, jumps off from a premise so strange that it will take awhile for audiences to brings themselves au courant. Trust me: It's worth the work it'll take to watch, listen and understand.

In fact, I am not going to tell you what the premise is because that would deprive you of some of the puzzling fun at hand. Let's just say that the movie has to do with "family": a faux family and a real family and the journey that brings our hero, James (played by Mr. Mooney, shown below), from one to the other.

The title character in BRIGSBY BEAR, turns out to be a kind of TV show that James has watched for his entire life, and one that he has pretty much based his life around. How and why this has happened is the movie's jumping off point, and how James is able to deal with it all provides the film's through-line and plot.

Brigsby Bear is, in its own strange way, an almost perfect example of American independent cinema. It's the kind of film that could never induce a major studio to back it, even as the finished product provides the opportunity for a whole raft of fine actors to strut their stuff (and very well, too), while giving its director and writers the chance to offer us something different, succulent and finally quite nourishing -- if in an unexpected way.

The film's premise is what seems to have put off some viewers and critics. This is understandable because it's a whopper, all right. But because that premise is what fuels the film, while forcing its audience to consider what James' experience must have been like, as well as what his faux parents were hoping to accomplish and why, there is plenty of food for thought here.

That the explanation for those latter points is never forthcoming bothers some folk. I found it better not to have it dished out to me. That way I could imagine what those parents wanted and why, as you probably will, too. As played by a wonderful Mark Hamill (above) and a under-used-but-always-worth-seeing Jane Adams, they're an oddball treat.

As James moves along his path, he must adjust to a new family (Matt Walsh, above left, and Michaela Watkins, right), along with his new sibling (Ryan Simpkins) and her friends, chief among them a kindly and intelligent whizz kid named Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., below, second from right, and at bottom, right), who proves a big help to our hero.

Also along for the fun ride are Greg Kinnear as the local police chief, and current indie queen, Kate Lyn Sheil, below, left, playing a far-away waitress who proves pivotal to that old Brigsby Bear "television" series. Kinnear brings his kindly gravitas and just-slightly-withheld emotion to the proceedings, while Ms Sheil, in her small but quite telling scene, is so emotionally on-point as to break our hearts.

There's action, thrills and surprise here, along with the joy and creative bursts that come with making an indie movie that's also clearly a labor of love. That's what the film-within-a-film proves to be, and it's exactly what Brigsby Bear -- the character and the film itself -- is, too.

From Sony Pictures Classics (the movie's own take-off on the SPC logo is one of its great jokes) and running 100 minutes, after hitting both coasts, the film opens here in South Florida tomorrow, Friday, August 11. It will play the Miami area at the AMC Aventura and Sunset Place, Regal's South Beach and Cinemark Paradise (in Davie). In Palm Beach County, look for it at the Cinemark Boynton Beach and in Boca Raton at the Cinemark Palace and Regal Shadowood. To see all playdates, cities and theaters around the country, simply click here, and then click on GET TICKETS.

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