Were it not that I thought this original story had some potential, I might have otherwise given this a miss. Bit of a let-down then, that despite starting well, I felt any sustaining interest was largely squandered, most notably in an unashamedly crowd-pleasing finale.
Kyle Mooney (also one of the co-writers) stars as a twenty-something kidnap victim who was taken as an infant by a married couple (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) who raise him as their captive son. One presumes that they took him because they couldn't have children of their own - it's not explained. He's brought up to think that the air outside their isolated home (filmed in Utah) is toxic, he only being allowed out to go and sit on the roof staring in the night at stars and surrounding mountains while wearing a gas mask. His only window onto the 'world' is a contrived one that his 'parents' have made for him in their own warehouse by creating, with volunteer 'actors', a TV show, 'Brigsby Bear's Adventures', which he replays over and over on VHS video tapes - with the 'Bear' being a kind of Superman figure battling on behalf of the planet against an evil face-in-the-sun - with grottily primitive (and laughable) special effects - very 1950s - all of which he laps up with unconditional belief in its veracity! Then the police (led by Greg Kinnear) track him down, return him to his true parents (Matt Walsh, Michaela Wilkins) with his never-seen teenage sister (Ryan Simpkins) now 25 years later, and his kidnappers are clapped in prison.
The story is a tale of how he copes in adjusting to realising that what he'd been told about the world was a lie, and his utter incomprehension that others did not know of this Brigsby Bear TV programme. His social awkwardness on encountering others is evident and understandable, though everyone is aware of him through his release from his captors having been shown widely on TV news. This also makes others feel sympathetic towards him and his clumsiness in etiquette is never a cause for outright hostility, more one of curiosity, some amusement, and tolerance. His status as adult virgin is also, rather predictably, explored.
With that big papier-mache bear head (just one of a large number of the TV shows' props), I thought there might be some echoes of 2014's 'Frank' (Michael Fassbender) - but that earlier film was far superior to this.
This seems to be director Dave McCary's first feature film. I kept thinking that he was going out of his way to take the easy route and avoid challenges, particularly with that ending which I've mentioned.
Though occasionally silly, it's not a poor film by any means, though it does come within a whisper of being cloyingly sentimental, without actually falling right into it. I only wish it had been better than it's turned out...............5.5.
17 minutes ago