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  • Colin Fraser


THREE STARS A man is freed from captivity and makes a feature film about his boyhood TV hero, Brigsby Bear.


If you’re looking for a cuddly kids film, keep looking: this isn’t an ersatz PADDINGTON. Although Brigsby is, after a fashion, a bear, one who had his own TV series, his pedigree leaves a lot to be desired. After all, the bear was created by a deranged man to help subdue a kidnapped boy he keeps in a bunker. And it’s here that child abuse becomes fodder for a quirky indie comedy, sort of. And it’s an uncomfortable coupling.

Come the day police free James (now an emotionally underdeveloped 20-something man) is returned to his biological family, BRIGSBY BEAR is on much firmer ground. And if you can overlook the issue of abuse (one not readily addressed by the film, and not easy to overlook), there’s something going for it. As likeable James learns to engage with his new family and friends, he elects to make a movie about the TV bear and finish a story his kidnapper had begun. It’s an interesting journey abut self-discovery for young and old that are now all a part of James’s life.

With enough quirk to satisfy the quirk-loving indie cinema goer, BRIGSBY BEAR is mostly the kind of film they don’t really make any more: a joyful combination that inhabits the same world as JUNO and NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Sort of. If only there wasn’t that elephant sharing the room with Brigsby. Child abuse simply can’t be in the same space as comedy, no matter how tangential. It’s something the filmmaker’s never fully address and because of that, the filmwatcher can’t escape it either.

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