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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Brigsby Bear is a sweet, quirky dramedy about a man (Saturday Night Live's Kyle Mooney) who was held prisoner his whole life and is obsessed with a made-up TV show. Expect some sexual content: A teen girl kisses the main character, undoes his zipper, and reaches for his crotch. There's also kissing, and the main character masturbates under the covers. "S--t" is used regularly, and "f--k" and other words are heard occasionally. The main character drinks and takes a pill at a party, gets dizzy, hallucinates, and passes out. Teens are briefly shown drinking, and weed is mentioned. There's an explosion, and a TV set is thrown through a window. While the characters aren't ideal role models, the movie does offer messages of compassion and kindness toward those who are different.
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What's the story?
In BRIGSBY BEAR, 20-something James Pope (Saturday Night Live's Kyle Mooney) lives with Ted (Mark Hamill) and April Mitchum (Jane Adams) in their compound, forbidden to leave because of the poison air he's been told is outside. He spends his hours watching and studying the TV show Brigsby Bear. Suddenly, the FBI raids the place, and James learns that he was kidnapped as a child. It turns out that everything outside is actually fine, and Brigsby Bear was created by Ted and shown only to James. Returned to his real family, James has a hard time adjusting -- he can't forget his lifelong obsession with the bear. After his father takes him to the movies, James decides to make his own film, wrapping up the Brigsby Bear storyline. He goes to a party with his sister and makes some new friends who are willing to help. Unfortunately, the authority figures in his life think that James' obsession is unhealthy and that he should be sent somewhere to get help.
Is it any good?
This dramedy from several SNL veterans has a pretty strong case of the cutes, and it doesn't always connect, but at the same time it's genuinely imaginative and sweetly likable. Brigsby Bear is one of those movies in which everything revolves around the main character, and all the secondary characters exist in relation to him; they lack inner lives of their own. Whatever secret conflicts or concerns or opinions they might have about James' peculiarities are simply ignored.
Nevertheless, as played by Mooney, James is such an endearing fellow -- unguarded and kind -- that it's difficult not to like him. And, as an extension, it's easy to see why all the other characters like him. Additionally, director Dave McCary and star/co-writer Mooney have created a fascinating universe around Brigsby and also manage to explore, at least somewhat, the twin pleasures and pitfalls of nostalgia. Certainly Hamill's presence in the cast -- as both a voice actor and as a sci-fi nerd -- helps make the point. Andy Samberg is also onboard as a co-producer and appears in a funny, small role.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Brigsby Bear depicts sex. Do the characters make positive decisions about sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
In what ways is James a role model? In what ways is he a more problematic character?
What is the movie saying about nostalgia? What's the upside? The downside? Have you ever been nostalgic about a TV show or a character from your childhood?
- In theaters: July 28, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: November 14, 2017
- Cast: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear
- Director: Dave McCary
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Misfits and underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, brief sexuality, drug material and teen partying
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