I’m not going to offer my usual plot recap for Brigsby Bear here because, quite frankly, it’s too insane. Let’s just say that it involves a man named James (Kyle Mooney) who has been obsessed since childhood with a single TV show, the only one he’s been lead to believe exists. One day his world is upended and he has to not only cope but find a way to take control of his life.
That’s it. That’s all I’m saying. We now take you to the review of the marketing of Brigsby Bear. which also costars Mark Hamill.
You’re not going to divine any clear story from the first poster, which puts Brigsby Bear and James toward the bottom, shaking hands under the watchful face in the sun or moon or whatever that is. It’s just as trippy as the rest of the marketing and just as likely to simultaneously turn off any casual moviegoers that happen across it and attract anyone looking for eccentric, offbeat stories.
Ummm…what the heck is going on in this first trailer? It looks like we’re following a small family that lives in some sort of remote environmental bubble and only watches a kids show that seems like a cross between Teletubbbies and Barney. Yep, barring any additional information that’s what I’m going with. Whatever the case, I’m on board.
The second trailer, released right before Comic-Con, has James and his father (?) talking about who else might be out there in the world and how important imagination is. We see he’s eventually brought into the bigger world and everyone is trying to help him but he doesn’t have the tools to do that without Brigsby. So all his interactions are very awkward and uncomfortable. There’s certainly more of the story here, which is helpful.
Online and Social
The second trailer plays when you load the movie’s official website. Watch it again if you want to get all trippy or just enjoy the creativity on display.
Once that closes we get a splash page that features a variation on the key art of James and Brigsby shaking hands under the evening sky. Down at the bottom are links to the Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr profiles for Sony Classics. They’re not linked (oddly) but there are also at least Facebook and Twitter accounts for the movie itself.
The first section of content is the “Synopsis” but be warned that it offers a lot of details about the story that haven’t been shared in other parts of the campaign. So proceed at your own level of comfort with spoilers. After that is “Cast,” which gives you good bios about the major players. “Filmmakers” does likewise for those behind the scenes.
“Gallery” is where you’ll find seven stills from the movie and a behind the scenes pic. Finally “Trailer” has the second trailer for you to watch again if you want.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Some online advertising was done, mostly involving the key art of the creepy face in the moon. That’s about the extent of what I’m aware of, though.
Media and Publicity
The movie had a big panel at San Diego Comic-Con with the cast and crew where Hamill urged all the Star Wars fans out there to check it out and give its quirkiness a try.
Outside of that Mooney was the focus of much of the press, which makes sense since he’s one of the creators. He was interviewed about what movies inspired him and co-writer Kevin Costello as they worked on the script, about the pair’s unique comedic sensibilities and history doing both YouTube videos and a stint on “SNL,” about keeping the story a secret as much as possible and jumping from the web and TV into the world of feature film production. Mooney also did a few appearances on daytime and late night talk shows to promote the movie and cover similar topics of conversation.
Usually I’m not overly concerned with spoilers. If a movie can’t still stand on its own even if I know some important plot points, then it may not be that great to begin with. My enjoyment isn’t often impacted by knowledge. This is, then, a rare case where I feel like I already know too much. So my advice is to turn back from anything you feel might offer story details because this appears to be one of the most creative, original movies in recent years. At least that’s how it’s being sold and much of the campaign supports that claim.
The secrecy of the story is sometimes overt in the marketing – Hamill repeatedly talked about how much he wasn’t going to say, as did Mooney – and sometimes more subtle. To that last point, much of the press with Mooney wasn’t necessarily directly about the movie but more about his comedic stylings in general and place as a young creative person. That, combined with the official marketing elements, worked to sell something pretty unique.