A Bit Of Babble ‘Bout BRIGSBY BEAR

I missed Dave McClary’s BRIGSBY BEAR in its limited theatrical run last year (I’m not even sure if it came to my area), but just caught up with it on Blu ray and I’m glad I did because it’s a real delight. If you haven’t watched Saturday Night Live lately you might not know the films star, Kyle Mooney, but he’s a current cast member since 2013 who has made a bunch of weird, awkward but highly amusing digital shorts (inheriting the brand from Andy Samberg) like this one, and this one.

Here Mooney and director McClary, who both made over 70 of those shorts, have, with the help of co-writer Kevin Costello, successfully translated their silly small screen shenanigans to the big screen with this tale of a scruffy 30-year old named James who discovers that the people he thought were his parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) are actually a couple who abducted him when he was a baby, and that there’s a real world outside the underground bunker he’s been living in for all his life.

What’s even crazier is that he grew up watching and obsessing over a children’s television show called “Brigsby Bear Adventures,” but it’s a program that only he has ever seen as his faux father fabricated it – writing, starring, and directing decades of episodes – at an outside studio with props, costumes, brightly colored sets, and even a young woman (Kate Lyn Sheil) he hired to play two roles who Hamills Ted told the show was for Canadian cable access.

So when the bunker is raided by the FBI, and his parents are taken away, James is re-united with his real parents (Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins), but has trouble adjusting with his family, and sets out to make a movie that concludes the Brigsby Bear series.

You have to suspend some disbelief as it’s unlikely that the cops would really let James to use all the props including the original bear costume that were confiscated, but the film earns its ending, which has touching similarities to the climax of James Franco’s THE DISASTER ARTIST

The endearingly meek Mooney sweetly carries the movie with help from a well chosen cast including Greg Kinnear as a sympathetic police detective, Claire Danes as a family therapist, Ryan Simpkins as James’ sister, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as a friend who helps with shooting the Brigsby Bear movie, and SNL alums Andy Samberg and Beck Bennett in brief but effective cameos.

I didn’t expect that I’d like it as much as I did, but I found BRIGSBY BEAR to be a goofy yet sometimes sad charmer with a big heart. I love how it celebrates the idea that one’s obsession with something imaginary can be channeled into creating something real that’s personal yet can be shared with many others.

You may be able to get a glimpse of its immense likability in the film’s trailer:

More later…

Tina Fey & Amy Poehler’s Silly, Sloppy, & Sadly Insubstantial SISTERS

Now playing at a multiplex near you:

SISTERS (Dir. Jason Moore, 2015)

t’s almost as if Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, both in their mid-forties, were like ‘it’d be great to do a big stupid high school-styled house party comedy, but we’re too old. Then said, in unison, “then let’s do a comedy about two women who are too old to have a big stupid high-school styled house party!”

So, aided by PITCH PERFECT director Jason Moore helming a screenplay by their fellow SNL writer alum Paula Pell, Fey, and Poehler do just that, and it results in their silliest, sloppiest, and, sadly, least substantial project of either of their careers.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have a lot of funny moments though.

Fey, as an irresponsible, unemployable mother very much the opposite of her signature role as workaholic neurotic Liz Lemon on the former NBC sitcom 30 Rock; and Poehler, as the control freak nurse who shares little in common with her signature role as Lesley Knope on the former NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, slip easily into their roles here as siblings Kate and Maura.

When the two sisters learn that their parents (James Brolin and Diane Wiest) are selling their beloved childhood home in Orlando, Florida, they decide to have one last blow-out party there and, wouldn’t you know it, outrageous hi-jinks ensue.

On the sisters’ guest list is The Mindy Project’s Ike Barinholtz as a neighbor that Poehler’s Maura is crushing on; John Leguizamo as a sketchy alcoholic druggie who’s crushing on Kate; SNL pals (Kate McKinnon, Rachel Dratch, and Bobby Moynihan), Samantha Bee as a married mom looking to get her freak on, and several other recognizable funny faces.

Another SNL alum of Fey and Poehler’s, Maya Rudolph plays would could be considered the movie’s villain, the snooty Brinda, who tries to crash the party but gets thrown out so she continuously attempts to shut the shindig down. Rudolph’s part is probably the most contrived and least amusing element on display, but she still made me laugh (or at least snicker) particularly when seen dancing outside the window.

As a stoic drug dealer, John Cena, in his third comic film appearance of the year (TRAINWRECK and DADDY’S HOME are the other two) also warrants some laughs (stay through the end credits for his best moments).

Just about everything you’d expect happens – massive property damage, somebody accidentally gets fucked up and wrecks havoc (Bobby Moynihan mistakes cocaine for Splenda when doing a Scarface impression), farcical sex scenes, and, of course, epiphanies about the sisters’ unhappy stations in life.

SISTERS is a throwaway comedy that may only be good for a matinee or a half-hearted rental months later, but because Fey and Poehler are two of the funniest people on the planet, it contains a high volume of jokes that land, even if you may not remember them later.

This weekend, it certainly serves as wacky counter programming to the new STAR WARS (as in if you can’t get into that, maybe consider this), but I bet Fey and Poehler’s stint co-hosting SNL the day after the film’s opening (with music guest Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!) will be a much funnier must see.

More later…