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Soundtrack review: Brigsby Bear (David Wingo – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Brigsby Bear (David Wingo – 2017)


“Brigsby Bear” is a 2017 American comedy-drama film directed by Dave McCary. The film stars Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Ryan Simpkins. Mooney and friend Kevin Costello penned the screenplay, which revolves around James Pope (Mooney), a man obsessed with a children’s television program titled Brigsby Bear Adventures. When the series abruptly ends, Pope’s life changes forever as he sets out to finish the storyline himself. To do that, he must learn how to cope with the realities of a new world that he knows nothing about. The score was written by David Wingo.

2017 has been a year with a lot of bleak movies, dark thrillers, horror flicks to the brim and the scores were a match; so it’s a nice change of scenery when a movie about a children’s TV show comes along and I hear a cue like “Until our next adventure”, a sweet little piano intro that sits right at the edge between fairy tale and reality. A story about a journey like this is bound to be lonely but the loneliness is welcoming, the soft guitar motifs remind me of early Rob Simonsen scores and I am charmed by the minimalistic and gentle musics of “Brigsby Bear”. The world is reduced to just one and the score evokes playfulness and smiles at a personal scale. When the main character has to face reality the music gets a little more menacing with some string and electronic motifs, all of them experienced at a small scale.

“Taken away” is the first truly emotional moment of the score; it’s a short and beautiful ambient piece with a short piano intro, the kind I like the most. The piano though truly shines in “New world”, both melancholic and hopeful, and as I listen to this cue I think about John Williams’ “A.I.” score, in which a similar journey took place and cues like this were very present. This is for me the main piano theme of the score as it recurs just as beautifully in “Reunited”. This is the instrument that can evoke the most emotions, of all sorts, and even subdued like David Wingo uses it, it hits the mark.

Then I get retro little electronic gems like “Can anyone do it” and “Did it look cool?” and if you ask me, every score should have cues like this, it should be mandatory. The majority of the score is spend it soft guitar and piano land, the best land for a nice little journey, a charming sound that I can’t help but smile at and be relaxed by, a playful and careless little puppy of a sound. David Wingo also includes orchestral cues in “Brigsby bear”, since this is an adventure of many surprises. “Finding the Smile sisters” again deepens my love for the piano and also has a serious string section to change the mood.

“Brigsby Bear” is a charming little island of joy in today’s rather bleak film music landscape. With a beautiful piano theme inside and other precious nuggets that will make you smile, this is a score not to be missed.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 30

Album excellence: 49%

The Pier
Taken Away
New World
Can Anyone Do It?
Aubrey and James
Did It Look Cool?
Finding the Smile Sisters
The End

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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