Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

An Audience Of One: "Brigsby Bear"

To give further thoughts I have on the film Brigsby Bear, I'll tell more about what happens in the film to give (I hope just enough) context.
At about 15 to 20 minutes in, we learn that the main character James (Kyle Mooney) has been living in a bunker his entire life, with kidnappers (Jane Adams and Mark Hamill) pretending to be his parents. The details slowly, quietly build up a sense of Something Wrong; we and he learn the truth the night the authorities find the family and take James away. James had grown up watching the kids' show "Brigsby Bear Aventures," his most reliable form of entertainment and lessons; James's "father" had made the show on a frayed-shoestring budget, managing to keep the small number of cast and crew in the dark about the show's true purpose. "He told us it was for Canadian public access," one person later tells James.

The show was, literally, for an audience of 1. In the clips we see, dialogue is sometimes strangely specific, the "father" sending messages to James. The whole show is a message to him, coming from someone messed up enough to kidnap a kid, but with some sense of wanting to do right by that kid.

After James is taken from the bunker and moves in with his real family, the kidnappers are jailed. This means no more episodes of "Brigsby Bear Aventures," after years (decades?) of shows. While James tries to adapt to the world, he realizes he needs the show, enough to see if he can make an ultra-low-budget movie that could end "Brigsby Bear Aventures" on a high, positive note. As he and a newfound circle of friends start to do so, clips of the original "Brigsby Bear Aventures" get uploaded to YouTube and find a small, but devoted, circle of fans.

A cynical corner of my mind thought, as I watched this part of the film, James is going to run into Dislikes. The film doesn't show this, but by law of averages (and of people being jerks online) some viewers won't like "Brigsby Bear Aventures." They'll hate the production values, the ridiculously convoluted storylines, the flat acting, the odd lines and odd line-readings. And they'll talk about it. And James doesn't know yet Not To Read The Comments.

But the un-cynical part of my mind said The film is smart to avoid that. We see some of the people (almost certainly a small number of 'em) who like the show's earnestness and lessons — weird lessons, but lessons all the same. The movie, like James's eventual movie-within-a-movie, is fundamentally about finding kindred spirits to do something neat; having a scene with "Brigsby" haters might have been funny, but would have undercut the film's message. I can imagine it happened — the film does reach for a level of verisimilitude — but James has already been through difficult times, if quietly difficult. Don't add to it. His family and his new friends don't. Neither, that's a too-late-in-the-film spoiler. Instead, a point:

I, like so many of us, am working to be creative. Mainly my poems lately: in fact, thinking of Brigsby Bear got me thinking of The Truman Show which got me thinking of something personal which sparked a poem I started this morning. I'll share it once I'm done with it; I want people to read my stuff. Thus, this blog, just in general. I've never had a big audience, but it helps knowing that there is some audience. An audience of 1 is always possible, but an audience of More is almost always possible.

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