Father Figures Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Two brothers hit the road, in search of the father they never got to know but figure out that it won’t be as easy as previously thought.
Director: Lawrence Sher
Cast: Ed Helms, Owen Wilson, Glenn Close, J.K. Simmons, Terry Bradshaw, Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames, Katt Williams, Harry Shearer, Katie Aselton & Zachary Haven.
Run Time: 113 min.
US Release: 22 December 2017
UK Release: 16 February 2018
German Release: 15 February 2018
Father Figures was released in the U.S. late December of last year but is coming out in Europe early 2018. This is Sher’s directorial debut, who previously worked as a cinematographer on projects like The Hangover trilogy, Due Date and I Love You, Man, just to name a few. His experience with comedies should have given him the upper hand for this feature but it was plagued with problems from the beginning and it really shows! Be it the development hell it was stuck in or the constant changes in release dates and not to forget the title change from “Bastards” to what it is now, this movie went through them all.
Peter Reynolds (Helms) is a bored and depressed proctologist, going through a difficult time in his life. At his mother’s (Close) wedding, he confronts her about his father, who he and his twin brother Kyle (Wilson) never met. She confesses to the fake stories she told them about a fictional father and gives them a list of names from men, who could possibly fit the profile. The two twins go on a road trip to search for their real dad.
Writer Justin Malen developed this messy story that doesn’t seem to know what it should be, as the comedic and dramatic elements in the plot are unbalanced. This makes for a very boring dramedy, with Malen trying to spice up the narrative by adding uncomfortable raunchy humour, which is coincidentally my biggest gripe with the film: It isn’t funny at all! The emotional beats also fall flat, as the plot makes ridiculous turns and twists that make little, to no sense, a shame as it did have a message buried underneath all that pile of garbage.
It did have its moments, though, such as a very sweet scene between two characters sitting in front of a bar getting to know each other. The following scenes however, turned that romantic moment into one of the crudest clichés in movie history and ruined it. The dialogues were horrible as well, most of them consisting of cheap butt and sex jokes. The rude and foulmouthed conversations did not add to the story, they were simply included for the sake of shocking the audience.
Most of the big name actors, listed in this comedy, have nothing more than short cameo scenes, which is a big let-down. They appear and disappear, without ever hearing from them again. Even Glenn Close, who should have played a vital role in this feature, gets a maximum of, maybe, fifteen minutes on screen. I honestly don’t understand why these well-known performers decided to join this cheap and cluttered mess of a project.
Ed Helms plays one of the two main characters, Peter Reynolds, twin to the second lead. Peter himself is an unlikeable person, who judges and insults people simply because he is going through a rough patch. He built an emotional wall towards his family and is alone due to being unsupportable. Helms doesn’t add any presence to his role, making him boring and uninteresting, so when the plot tries to vindicate some of Peter’s actions, I couldn’t care less for his redemption. Helms also makes the impression as if he isn’t sure about the script’s atmosphere, acting completely contrary to the tone set.
Kyle Reynolds, portrayed by Owen Wilson, is the other sibling and a more likeable persona. Wilson, however, dons the same role we saw him play in Zoolander, You, Me and Dupree and other comedic roles of the noughties, giving an uninspired performance without adding anything new to the character. Kyle is a “hippie” douchebag, who had the fortune to fall into a pot of gold. It is sad seeing Wilson like that, knowing that he gave a great performance in Wonder.
The best segment of the film, by far, is the part in which J.K. Simmons makes his appearance. Simmons plays Roland Hunt, a criminal and possible father to Peter and Kyle. He catches the personas maniacal side well and was incredibly funny, without needing to stoop down to the level of the narrative but using the bad script to his advantage.
This is a good and sharp looking comedy that makes use of strong colours, which suit the easy and unburdened atmosphere. While the lighting is good for the largest part, there is a scene playing at night that includes a hitchhiker. That segment is too dark and it is hard to make out what is happening inside the car. It also included a couple of shots that were taken from strange angles, such as the airplane scene, in which people kept passing by in front of the camera while focusing on a discussion between the two leads. It also made use of lazy and uninspired travel montages, signalling the beginning and end of the road-trip.
Verdict: Lawrence Sher’s debut flick is a chaotic trash-project that doesn’t know exactly what it should be; including both comedic and dramatic points, displayed at its worse. The story written by Justin Malen is of poor quality, dull, and uses toilet humour to create false excitement. I smirked a couple of times but sat mostly bored out of my mind, hoping for this film to end soon. The dialogue basically consists of awkward humour and nasty sex jokes and the characters are one-dimensional and uninspired. Ed Helms seems to be confused about what type of movie he is playing in, and Owen Wilson is given the same role we saw him in so many times before. The colour and pictures look nice and crisp but it also makes use of uninspirational montages and uses awkward angles. The only redeeming aspect of this horrible comedy is J.K. Simmons, who used the bad narration to his advantage, which is why I will give Father Figures a 3.5 out of 10.
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