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|The Brothers Solomon
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Bob Odenkirk
scr Will Forte
with Will Arnett, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Chi McBride, Malin Akerman, Lee Majors, David Koechner, Sam Lloyd, Derek Waters, Bob Odenkirk, Charles Chun, Ryun Yu
release US 7.Sep.07, UK 2.Nov.07
07/US TriStar 1h33
Positive spin: Arnett and Forte
There's an awkward charm to this story of social misfits trying to connect with women, but the script and performances leave it feeling somewhat creepy and uninvolving.
John and Dean Solomon (Arnett and Forte) were raised by their dad (Majors) at the North Pole. Now living in Los Angeles, they are utterly unprepared to deal with society, and yet they keep trying to meet women, who flee in terror at their weirdly positive outlook and bizarre behaviour. When their dad slips into a coma, they launch into an urgent mission to have a grandson for him, hiring a surrogate (Wiig) and lusting after a neighbour (Akerman). Of course, they haven't a clue what it'll be like to be dads.
This is Dumb and Dumber-style comedy straining for the sophisticated vulgarity of Knocked Up. But John and Dean never become anything more than cartoon characters who grin so inanely that they begin to look like evil incarnate. What starts as an oddly endearing tale of two boy-men settles into a simplistic fish-out-of-water formula livened up by moments of disarming charm and goofy silliness. Only a few opportunities for astute humour are explored as the filmmakers take a lazy stroll through the material.
The characters are fleshed out for a comedy sketch, not a feature movie. Arnett and Forte most effectively capture John and Dean's relentless optimism in the smiley opening titles, and it doesn't go much further from there. One-note performances like this, no matter how likeable the character, are almost difficult to enjoy. And they create a strange anachronism when they interact with recognisably real women (Wiig and Akerman are natural and even sometimes funny in underwritten roles) and more traditional comedy buffoons like McBride as Wiig's blustering ex.
In the end, the film is eccentric enough to keep us watching, and even sometimes laughing. But alongside Judd Apatow's brand of smart, frank, adult-oriented humour, this feels out-of-date and surprisingly timid. The script focuses more on its over-egged punchlines than any genuine attempt to tell a story that might amuse us. And it feels like a one-gag sketch stretched beyond the breaking point.
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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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