BRIGSBY BEAR — Review by Martha K. Baker

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Brigsby Bear is unbearable.

Some movies are designed for a particular audience, and if you’re not a 30-year-old boy, if you’re not obsessed with every nuance, line, and fly (insect and zipper) of a franchise, and if you have never stayed up to watch “Saturday Night Live,” you’re not it for Brigsby Bear.

The title of the film refers to the title and titular character of a cartoon designed for an audience of one. Brigsby Bear is an ursine cartoon designed to entertain a stolen boy. James Pope was kidnapped as a baby by two inventive people, who shake hands instead of pray before supper. They keep James in a geodesic dome and require masks to go outside, and he lives in a room walled in by tapes and tapes of episodes of Brigsby Bear. He knows every aspect of the series — except how it ends.

But when the Feds come to take him home to his real parents, James is discombobulated. The only thing that directs his energies in this foreign world is to try to finish the film his kidnapper started. He sways his new friends, seeming adults, into helping him.

Just like Brigsby Bear‘s writers, veterans of Lonely Island Classics, Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney, who stars as the bewildered, unkempt, bespectacled James. They and the film’s director, Dave McCary, inveigled class actors to join the troupe in producing this unfunny film. Pope’s pretend parents, the Hopes, are played by Mark Hamill (!) and Jane Adams; his real parents, the Popes, by Michaela Watkins of Enough Said and Matt Walsh, Upright Citizens Brigade founder. Clair Danes plays a therapist; Andy Samberg, an interloper, and Greg Kinnear, a detective.

Brigsby Bear offers tuneless laughs, a genuine plot device (re-incorporating an abducted manchild into society), and an open chasm between interesting and boring. If you’re not in the demographic, stay home.

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.