brothers solomon
, , ,
93 min.
Release Date
brothers solomon

It’s a common malady with today’s comedies: center the movie on a quirky, barely sketch-worthy character, straining the audience’s tolerance and the writer’s abilities to keep the jokes going for 90-minutes (a lesson learned back on It’s Pat: The Movie and Stuart Saves His Family). Recent examples like Blades of Glory, Balls of Fury, and Hot Rod all have their moments, but are essentially like having a marathon of “Saturday Night Live”—and not the good years with Phil Hartman and Chris Farley, but the present, unfunny cast that’s driving the show into the ground.

Will Forte of today’s “SNL” cast wrote and stars in The Brothers Solomon, an overlong examination of two awkward brothers raised without benefit of human interaction as children. Forte plays Dean Solomon and Will Arnett plays brother John. Both were raised by their widowed father at the North Pole, home-schooled, and taught little-to-nothing about social niceties. Now living in the city together, Dean and John seek to give their comatose father one last wish: a grandchild.

The brothers were taught to be unendingly positive. Forte and Arnett sport gigantic smiles, which are frankly a little disturbing. Now there’s nothing wrong with a hearty smile, mind you, but when it’s given to overzealousness, we begin to think the giver of said smile wants to chop us up and eat us. The title sequence is particularly disturbing, as Forte and Arnett’s floating heads smirk and leer at the credits like motivational instructors. And of course that’s the point, that being overly-happy is annoying and sometimes creepy, but Forte’s script forgets that his audience too will find the brothers’ gladness trying.

Together, Dean and John scout for potential partners, hoping to procreate and complete their father’s wish. Dating isn’t easy for anyone, much less these two goons, whose pickup lines recall the come-ons of a serial killer. Raised without an appreciation or respect for the opposite sex, they blatantly tell their first-time dates their intentions—to get them in the sack and create a child, the last thing anyone wants to hear on a first date. Surprisingly, Dean finds a short, pudgy woman willing to bed a stranger and have his no-strings-attached baby… except she gets hit by a bus. John has a crush on their neighbor in the apartment next door, Tara (Malin Akerman), a stuck-up snoot who thinks John is a loser. That subplot turns out to be heavy padding on an otherwise slim comedy.

They finally turn to Craig’s List, where they post a simple message saying they need a woman to father their child. Enter Janine (current “SNL” castmember Kristen Wiig), a woman willing to accept twelve thousand dollars to be their surrogate mother. Dean and John just don’t understand why she won’t have sex with them both, why she insists on artificial insemination. Her estranged boyfriend, an angry janitor named James (Chi McBride), whose exists in the script only to throw in an occasional F-word, is hesitant toward the idea but eventually warms to the brothers.

What is it about former and current sketch comedians? Why do they feel the need to overextend their television work, dragging it kicking and screaming across the line to film? Do they forget movies have longer running times? Do they expect us to tolerate bad jokes on film, which on TV we might otherwise put up with while waiting for the next sketch? There’s one scene that succinctly describes the whole movie’s overstayed welcome: The brothers attempt to contact Janine after she realizes she wants their baby to herself, only they can’t find her. They hire a flying banner service to carry their message across the sky, only their message is a full-on conversation, complete with arguments, apologies, and detailed explanations. The idea of a plane pulling behind it an inordinately long ad is funny, but the scene drags for upwards of five minutes. That’s a lot of banner, and a long, long time to rely on one joke. Much of the movie is padding—random or elongated gags and useless filler. The Brothers Solomon might have worked if shortened to five minutes on some other televised-type forum like “SNL”, but after half an hour I started checking my watch.

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