Friday, September 07, 2007

"The Brothers Solomon" -- * * *

“Janine, look in the sky!”

Destined to be universally shit on by critics who only know how to laugh at comedies when the name ‘Judd Apatow’ is attached, “The Brothers Solomon” hits theaters this weekend with little-to-no- fanfare. It’s a shame because “Brothers,” while brandishing a unique sense of humor not likely to be embraced by everyone, is very, very funny. Its lack of good taste and moral highground are relatively indefensible, except to say I laughed loudly, and I laughed often.

The movie revolves around the shenanigans of John (Will Arnett) and Dean (Will Forte) Solomon, a pair of beatifically smiling idiots who happen to be brothers—the kind of guys who get genuinely excited and amused by changing their answering machine settings to military time. After their dad (the always discerning Lee Majors) falls into a coma—but not before expressing his few regrets to his doctor—John and Dean decide to “make a baby for dad” to give the old man a grandson, in an effort to make him proud.

After John suggests less conventional methods of having a baby (“Like anal?” Dean asks), the two place an ad on Craigslist to find a vagina to babysit their sperm for nine months. Though the pair have some dates that end in embarrassment and/or death, eventually they find Janine (a strangely-unhilarious Kristin Wiig) who’s willing to have the brothers’ baby for $12,000. Complicating matters is Janine’s ex-boyfriend Barry (Chi McBride), and that the two brothers must house and care for comatose dad and his recalled, inferior medical equipment (John: “Flaws equal savings!”).

While I’d be hard pressed to say this movie has a “heart” per se, it’s a triumph of sorts that it’s never mean-spirited and embraces these morons’ dimwittery. Rather than unrealistically getting the girl, a small victory for these guys is simply telling said girl “Suck it!” and running away. The movie has its fair share of big gags and comic set-pieces (one involving a skywriting banner near the movie’s end had me literally on the floor), but what makes it work is the chemistry between the two Wills, their delivery and little character quirks they give the brothers (Arnett is seen throughout wearing a tweed jacket, and a polo shirt tucked into shorts, as his “fancy” attire).

“The Brothers Solomon” doesn’t have a universal “Ah, I can relate to that!” hook like “Superbad” that will make it a hit, but for my money, it’s more consistently funny and comes with a funnier screenplay (courtesy of Forte) with odd/awkward quirks at every turn that had me giggling for most of the duration. Sure, there are jokes that don’t work (“Look at the tits on that one” is uttered before cutting to a shot of a small obese boy), but I’d say two out of every three will make you chortle (one involving popcorn and a dead bird is particularly inspired), and that certainly ain’t bad.

Last November’s “Let’s Go to Prison” was a movie that, despite not being screened for critics, almost worked. It was never quite laugh-out-loud funny, and had an irritating lead in Dax Shepard, but it featured a number of “almost” moments and some clearly talented and funny people were involved. “Brothers” fulfills the promise of “Prison,” and the missing ingredient seems to have been Forte. Arnett, McBride, and director Bob Odenkirk are all back—it’s plain to see the three have fun working together—but this time with a co-leading man Arnett actually has chemistry with and a screenplay written by someone with an actual knack for funny gags and one-liners, not hacks-for-hire Robert Garant and Thomas Lennon (their current masterwork, “Balls of Fury,” is playing right down the hall from “Brothers Solomon;” choose wisely).

Arnett is always hilarious, and fans of “Arrested Development” (I think it’s the greatest show since the dawn of mankind) will be happy to know that he’s basically playing a slightly more braindead/creepy version of Gob here. While I wish his projects of choice made enough money to make him a genuine star, fans won’t be disappointed with his work here.

Odenkirk makes some directorial decisions that admittedly may be warning flags for some, but for others (*cough*), they will be signs that what’s to come will be right up their alley. There is repeated use of the deliciously cheesy “St. Elmo’s Fire” theme song, strongly emphasizing the movie’s 80s feel, but the opening credit sequence is what will really give people an idea of what they’re in for.

After an opening sequence of the brothers making an online personal ad (their main criteria is ‘female’), the credits begin, and as each name/credit pops up (to the sounds of the Flaming Lips’ “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”), one of the brothers pokes his head into frame, looks at the credit, and then looks back at us with an awkwardly vacant/approving smile. It’s a bit repetitive, but I laughed every time.

Speaking of which, for the first 20-30 minutes of “The Brothers Solomon,” I was literally the only person in the theater laughing, so this obviously isn’t going to be everyone’s cup o' tea.

It would appear the studio doesn’t have a ton of faith in it, since it’s opening against two other major "guy" films, and only on about 700 screens. But while it may not be ‘witty’—it’s proudly and wildly stupid—it’s worth seeking out, as it’s funnier than anything else playing at the moment.


Blogger Jesse said...

I also liked this movie and found it consistently amusing, though not nearly as hilarious as Superbad, which you under-value (it's a far better movie than Wedding Crashers). I'm surprised by the level of bile some critics have for Brothers Solomon; even in its less hilarious moments, it's harmless enough, and weird enough to stand out. But then, I'm a huge Forte fan -- such that I actually had stupidly high expectations for this movie and think it could've been even funnier (imagine Forte running wild at the level of Anchorman or even Hot Rod).

11:26 AM  

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