If you’ve stayed up to watch any of SNL’s offbeat 12:55 sketches, then you’re familiar with cast member Kyle Mooney’s warped sense of humor. It’s clear that he possesses a more left-field sensibility than the show’s down-the-middle satire allows. But in the new comedy Brigsby Bear (which he also co-wrote), he’s finally been given a forum to let his freak flag really fly.
With his long mop of corkscrew curls and the nerdy, deadpan air of a Take the Money and Run-era Woody Allen, Mooney plays James, a grown man stuck in a state of arrested development. It turns out that James was kidnapped as a baby by a childless couple (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) and raised in a desert bunker on a diet of kids’ TV shows. Actually, one show in particular — a lo-fi adventure fantasy featuring a giant teddy bear named Brigsby. When James is rescued and reunited with his biological parents (Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins), he not only has a hard time adjusting to the real world, he won’t let go of his obsession and decides to direct his own Brigsby movie.
Surrounded by an ace supporting cast (including Greg Kinnear as a cop with the acting bug), Mooney teeters between being charmingly naive, and one-note in a Napoleon Dynamite kind of way. The result is a slight, handcrafted indie that’s sweet, skewed, and feels a bit like a skit stretched out to feature length. B