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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Brigsby Bear (Blu-ray)
Brigsby Bear (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // November 14, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $20.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted December 8, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

2017's Brigsby Bear was directed by Dave McCary and written by Kyle Mooney who also stars as the film's lead, James Pope. He's lived the entirety of his life in a bunker with only his mother April (Jane Adams) and father Ted (Mark Hamill) to keep him company. As it's unsafe to go outside since ‘something' happened, James' world is rather insular and small. James' singular pleasure in life is a television show called Brigsby Bear. In fact, he's pretty much obsessed with it, a walking encyclopedia of Brigsby Bear knowledge, and he rabidly devours each new episode.

And then the F.B.I. shows up. James' entire life has been a lie. April and Ted were never his real parents, Greg (Matt Walsh) and Louise (Michaela Watkins) were. He's delivered into their custody and gets to meet his sister Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins) for the first time. A cop named Vogel (Greg Kinnear) is tasked with keeping an eye on things, to help him adjust to what's clearly traumatic. And maybe the hardest thing at all for James to accept? His favorite show was never real show in the first place, it was never seen by anyone but him. As James acclimates himself to the real world and puts his old life behind him, he learns the tools of the trade and decides to finish Brigsby's story himself.

Quirky but honestly warm, Brigsby Bear is an atypical dramatic comedy but a very good one nevertheless. Mooney is very good on the lead role. We're sympathetic to his plight but he's hardly a sad sack. His confusion and emotional turmoil seems real enough, but there's humor to what he does and how he does it. If the movie at times feels like a fantasy film, that's okay too. The way that the old Bribsby Bear footage is shot to fit into the core narrative kind of works in conjuncture with this aspect of the story. it works, both visually and thematically, and allows us to better understand how and why James is the way he is and how and why he'd want to bring closure to his past as he becomes more accustomed to his new reality.

The supporting cast are good here too. Hamill and Adams are excellent in their parts, while Walsh, Watkins and Simpkins each do fine work as James ‘real' family. Greg Kinnear is an odd choice for a cop but he makes it work, playing Detective Vogel believably enough to make it work. Each of the performers does a fine job of making their characters human enough to be interesting.

The whole thing is a not so subtle allegory for human growth, for moving on from your past and for trying to find your place in the world. These aren't always fun things for anyone to go through, as humans we tend to want to live in the past sometimes, rather than deal with an unpleasant today. But the movie doesn't harp on the negative. Without spoiling where it goes in its last half, let it suffice to say that there's a warmth to all of this that, if it isn't inspiring, it is at least feel good material. Amazingly enough, McCory and company manage to do this without losing any of the film's bizarre humor or by turning it into a sugary-sweet work of pap. Ultimately, the movie tries and succeeds to do something different and unique.

This is a film that'll likely fly under a lot of peoples' radars. It's not a huge blockbuster movie, it doesn't have massive action set pieces nor does it have any superheroes in it. It doesn't play to the lowest common denominator and at times, visually at least, it almost feels like an arthouse film. But anyone interested in a unique take on the human experience and the difficulties of growing up should give this a shot. It's very well done.

The Blu-ray

Video:

Sony brings Brigsby Bear to Blu-ray framed at 2.40.1 in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that looks very good. As the picture was shot digitally there are no problems to note with any print damage. The movie is given a decent bit rate and as such, there are no compression artifacts to note. Color reproduction is excellent and black levels are nice and solid. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no noticeable issues with any edge enhancement or noise reduction here to complain about. Detail is generally quite good and typically quite strong, though there are a few scenes that are a bit softer than others. Really though, no complains, this is a solid picture.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, which features optional subtitles in English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish and Thai, is solid. There is plenty of surround sound activity to appreciate during the more active moments in the film but much of the quieter parts focus the mix towards the front. Regardless, the audio quality here is just fine. Dialogue is crisp and clear, the music sounds nice and everything is properly balanced. As you'd expect from a new feature such as this, there are no noticeable problems with even a trace of hiss or distortion. An optional DTS-HD track is provided in Spanish while Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are offered up in French, Russian and Spanish.

Extras:

Supplements kick off with an audio commentary that comes courtesy of writer/actor Kyle Mooney and director Dave McCary that takes a little while to get going but ultimately proves to be quite interesting. These guys have a good sense of humor and that helps make this pretty listenable as they cover creating the old episodes seen in the feature, some of the effects work, casting the picture, where some of the story ideas came from and more.

After that, we get a few featurettes, starting with Twin Speak: Kyle & Dave, an eleven-minute segment where Mooney and McCary talk about their friendship, their work on Saturday Night Live and then, of course, how and why they came to work together on this feature. An Evening With Brigsby Bear is a thirteen-minute piece that covers the film's premiere before then going on to showcase a cast and crew Q&A session that took place at the screening.

Also found here is a quick ninety-second Wisdom Of Brigsby Bear bit that compiles some of the character's life advice, the seven-minute Brigsby Bear: The Lost Episode! Volume 23 Episode 14: The Festival of Kindness (which is a short episode of the vintage TV show featured in the movie) and eight-minutes of Deleted/Extended Scenes.

Additionally we get a teaser for the feature, a theatrical trailer for the feature, previews for other Sony titles, menus and chapter selection and a gag reel that clocks in at just under seven minutes in length.

Final Thoughts:

Legitimately heartwarming and hilarious, Brigsby Bear gets a nice special edition Blu-ray release from Sony that presents the film in great shape and with some nice extras. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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