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Brigsby Bear

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A movie about storytelling that succeeds by keeping its focus on the storyteller. James Pope (Kyle Mooney, who also co-wrote) is a young man who discovers that his entire life has been a fiction. In response, he latches onto the one thing that was “real” — the children’s TV show that gave shape and meaning to his extremely sheltered life — and sets about bringing it into his new, realer, sadder world. That it was designed and produced just for him doesn’t matter a whit; what matters is that it told him a story: Brigsby Bear’s adventures gave Pope a mental landscape in which to roam, and the impetus to do so. That doesn’t change just because he takes over as writer, director, and star. It could be argued that there should be more anger and less sweetness on display, but it’s pain that drives Pope to write his own ending, and so the film feels essentially honest. It helps that the supporting cast is so openly game: a tamped-down Mark Hamill will no doubt garner much of the attention, but there’s great work from Matt Walsh as the boy’s father and Greg Kinnear as a sympathetic detective. Directed by Dave McCary. (2017) — Matthew Lickona

Rated PG-13 | 1 hour, 35 minutes
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