Father Figures
dir Lawrence Sher; scr Justin Malen
prd Ivan Reitman, Ali Bell, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove
with Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, Katt Williams, Christopher Walken, JK Simmons, Terry Bradshaw, Ving Rhames, June Squibb, Harry Shearer, Jack McGee, Katie Aselton, Retta
release US 22.Dec.17, UK 16.Feb.18
17/US Warners 1h53
Father Figures
Who's your daddy: Wilson and Helms

close walken simmons
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Father Figures Virtually everything about this movie feels off, starting with the unconvincing casting of Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as twins. But the real problem is the awkward mix of gross-out gags with pushy sentimentality. Sometimes amusing but never funny, the film wobbles from one lazy joke to the next without ever clicking into gear. Only the most undemanding audiences will find anything to enjoy.

Twin brothers Peter and Kyle (Helms and Wilson) haven't seen each other for four years when they reunite at the marriage of their mother Helen (Close) to Gene (Shearer). That night Helen confesses that she doesn't know who her sons' father was. Most likely it was football legend Terry Bradshaw, so Peter and Kyle head to Miami to meet him. Or maybe it was full-on psycho Roland (Simmons) in New York. Or possibly it was a legendary Irish cop (McGee). And as they hit the road, the brothers need to work out their own relationship.

With its pushy bromance and undercooked comedy, the script is deeply unsophisticated. The humour is basically a steady stream of smutty double entendres peppered with jokes about proctology and urination. Structured as a road movie, the movie meanders from one set piece to another like a sketch comedy show. Each sequence is silly and rude, propelling Peter and Kyle on to the next stage of their quest, with the expected bickering. Helms and Wilson do their usual likeable thing, but they never register as siblings.

This is partly because performances are all over the place, veering from goofy slapstick to heartwarming sap. It's an easy paycheque for a cast that's far better than this. No character has depth, sticking to the superficial quirks, so everyone is like a guest star, merrily stealing scenes. This creates some enjoyable deranged moments, but never gives anyone something to work with. And it leaves no one in a stand-out role, except perhaps chatterbox hitchhiker Williams.

The movie is shot and edited in that usual whizzy, slick, anonymous way. Oddly for a film dealing with paternity issues, the script avoids anything relating to fatherhood, instead wallowing in racism and homophobia plus lurid stories about Helen's rampant promiscuity. Then the next minute, the filmmakers try to wring tears from the audience by generating random emotional bonding between these brothers. And it ends with a tasteless series of climaxes and a some strained drama that's hard to stomach.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, violence 12.Feb.18

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