Friday, December 28, 2007

The Brothers Solomon

On paper, this movie has a great deal going for it. It co-stars Will Arnett, who was easily the funniest part of Arrested Development, and was directed by Bob Odenkirk, who was one half of the brilliant Mr. Show. Even the trailer looked like it had a good deal of potential to it, so I was rather surprised when it came out and the reviews were pretty heavily negative. Now that it’s out on DVD, though, I can safely say that those critics were fools. Damned fools.

Granted, a comedy about a pair of socially useless brothers trying to knock a girl up so they can grace their father with a grandchild before he dies would tend to appeal to rather select tastes, but surely the film can’t appeal to such a limited audience that it would warrant such a savage beating as it took from critics. To be sure, it isn’t as smooth a comedy as, say, Hot Fuzz or Superbad, and its humor spends most of its time dancing right on the precipice of full-blown creepiness. Damn it, though, I like that in a movie. Good humor requires you to be a little uncomfortable when you’re laughing, otherwise you may as well just be spending your time boring yourself with knock-knock jokes.

The humor is pretty damned uncomfortable at times, I must say. Co-star Will Forte (the other brother Solomon, along with Arnett) kicks that off pretty much at the beginning of the film, meeting a blind date at her house and then trying to show her father respect in about the creepiest way he possibly could. And just in case you forget about it by the end of the film, they helpfully replay different versions of it during the outtakes in the end credits. Even better are their attempts at learning how to safely deal with a baby, once they’ve found a willing surrogate mother. If you clicked the link to the trailer above, then you already saw some of their efforts to catch a baby falling down a stairwell, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. The pair also find a use for popcorn and a dead bird, build an ultra safe baby crib that they then demonstrate the impenetrability of by flinging beer bottles at it, and in general just show that maybe it isn’t so bad for someone to go through childhood with a deadbeat dad.

Even as a fan of the film, I freely admit that the humor only works a good two thirds of the time. It is a quite uneven film, but it is one that works great when it’s working. This now brings the number of films Will Arnett has been in that I’ve enjoyed up to four this year (though curiously only the second he appeared onscreen for). If losing AD gives us this, then, well, I’d still rather have AD back, but I suppose this will do.

Rating: ***

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