Typically, I try to approach Fantasia showings with more curiosity than hype: you never know which film is going to affect you the most! This attitude was thoroughly rewarded during yesterday’s showing of Brigsby Bear [2017] – Dave McCary.

This film was penned, directed by and features a number of past and present SNL cast and crew members, with Kyle Mooney as both co-writer and main star. I was, at brigsby 2most, cautiously optimistic: I’ve been burned too many times by films with a stellar pedigree and lacklustre finish.

I was wrong and I am so glad.

The film follows Mooney’s character, James Pope, who was kidnapped as an infant by a professor (Mark Hamill) and his wife, then raised to believe that the world outside was poisoned (or possibly they’re in outer space? It’s unclear). After 26 years inside, James is rescued and brought back to “normal life” with his parents and teenage sister.

This could have felt like an Encino Man knock-off, with a heavy handed dose of social commentary and typical fish-out-of-water hijinks… but it doesn’t. The writing approaches James sympathetically, but well aware that it’s on him to adapt to the world he finds himself in. After learning about movies and movie theatres, James enthusiastically sets out to complete Brigsby Bear, the only show he was allowed to watch growing up (created by Mark Hamill’s character, meaning we’re treated to his seriously impressive voice-acting skills).

Anyone who’s ever seen Kyle Mooney’s earnest but slightly pathetic schtick on SNL will recognize it—but it’s brilliantly showcased here, endearingly awkward without becoming too annoying, sweet but not overly cloying (his attempts to learn slang are adorable, as are his google searches) .Laughs come in at just the right places, with actors like Matt Walsh and Greg Kinnear being used roles that are just slightly off their beaten paths. There’s also a just short enough cameo by Andy Samberg—any longer and it might have been distracting. Movies about making home videos and the heartwarming power of film are increasingly common, but this one has just enough nostalgic, Teddy-Ruxpin-like flair and tastefully retro special effects to stand out from the pack.

This film is being released in select cities, including Montreal! You’ll be able to find it at the Forum on August 4th and I strongly urge you to see it if you like … laughter and feeling good (surely you are NO EXCEPTION).

no other waySHORT FILM ALERT: Brigsby Bear was preceded by. No Other Way to Say it [2017] –Tim Mason. A HILARIOUS short about a voice actress reading lines for an inanely titled brand of ice cream treats. Skewers advertising, voiceover directions and parental relationships.

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