So this is the not-too-spoilery part of my review, but it gets into what happens in the first and second “acts” of the film.
I love how the film delves into what is an extremely intense and difficult situation. Our protagonist, James, has his whole world flipped upside-down. His “family unit” is taken away from him. The countless “facts” he knew about the world – everything from the air being toxic, to the types of living things that exist outside his bunker, to the television show that essentially raised and educated him – are now being exposed to him as being false. The way they setup his room, with all the videos, posters on the wall, toys, even his bedding, it showed how Brigsby Bear wasn’t just something he was interested in enough that he created a video blog, it was his sole passion. When he is starting to integrate back into society, and no one knows about Brigsby Bear, that takes away his means of relating to people and situations.
There’s no question in my mind why they had James’ first real friend be someone who shows up for the first time wearing a Star Trek shirt, because there are quite a few similarities between “Trekkies” and James’ intense interest in Brigsby Bear. Both subject matters have hundreds of episodes of visual content as a basis for creating its mythology. It makes sense that James’ friend would latch onto the world of Brigsby Bear after hearing the enthusiasm James has for the plentiful details that were created for that character and its hundreds of stories.
The way the film had James progress in becoming a more normal member of society and how that juxtaposed with how he struggled to get comfortable being a part of his birth family was also a very strong aspect of the film. The family wasn’t trying to relate to him, they were trying to have him relate to them. But the progress came as James and his friend started getting more involved in something James was passionate about, and he ends up actually doing a couple of the activities along the way with his friend that his family suggested be on the list.
A point the film tried to make about James’ mindset and progression might have been lost on some viewers because they didn’t hit it hard enough and it likely got lost in the rest of the conversation he was having at the time. When he starts describing his project to his friend, James slips in some key lines of dialogue that show just how deep into his psyche they delved. It’s points like these that take an above-average movie and make it great. It examines the human condition.
The relationship with the father, sister, “former” father, and detective. Each of those things played out just so amazingly. The review deserves more in depth perspective, and I’ll provide it soon.