Movie Review: “Father Figures”
Twins Kyle (Owen Wilson) and Peter (Ed Helms) reunite on their mother Helen’s (Glenn Close) wedding day. Kyle and Peter do not really get along. Peter works really hard to be a responsible adult, but he has separated from his wife and has a disrespectful son. Kyle, on the other hand, does not seem to work hard for anything, yet he seems to have it all. This, naturally, causes Peter to resent Kyle so tensions are certainly high on their mother’s wedding day.
As if tensions were not high enough already, Kyle and Peter learn that their mother has been lying to them about the identity of their father for their entire lives. Neither son has any memory of their father, but their mother has told them countless stories about his death and what he did during his life. They learn that their father may be very much alive, but they also learn that their mother had several partners during the time she conceived the boys. They do not know who their father is, but they have a lead on the most likely candidate, so the brothers embark on a road trip to meet their father. Now they just need to tolerate each other long enough to meet him.
The Pros & Cons
The Premise (+4pts)
The Mom (-4pts)
The Brothers (+5pts)
The Comedy (+4pts)
Unsatisfying End (-6pts)
Pro: The Premise (+4pts)
This was a pretty good premise for a comedy movie. Two brothers, who do not get along, go on a road trip to find out who their dad is because their mother had so many ”romantic” partners that she does not truly know who their father is. It is an amusing premise because of the awkward situations it puts the protagonists in. They learn of their mother’s ”adventurous“ past, and are searching for men to tell them that they could be their sons. The premise naturally puts the main characters in so many awkward, comedic situations that were pretty entertaining to see play out. Without getting into spoiler territory, the awkward situations, and desire to connect with their long lost father, gets them into some trouble along the way. It could have been executed better and been even more entertaining, but I found myself mildly entertained by the execution of this premise.
Con: The Mom (-4pts)
A lot of the believability of this premise rides on the mother and the reason she has for not knowing who the father is. I am not going to give away that reason, but the mom never seems to justify it at all. Why does the mother decide to lie to her sons saying that their father is dead? Because reasons. Why does the mother continue to lie about the identity of the father after her sons figure out their father is probably alive? Because.
I understand that this is a silly comedy and I should not take the plot too seriously. However, the writers could have easily justified the mother’s motivations. The very foundation of this premise lies with the mother. The writers did not need to make this a compelling character, but they needed to make her actions make sense and they did not do that. In order to get any satisfaction from this movie, the filmmakers ask you to suspend your disbelief throughout the entire setup of the story. All this does is make the setup feel like a waste of screentime while diminishing the ability for the audience to get invested in finding the father.
Pro: The Brothers (+5pts)
Before seeing the movie, I did not know if I would buy Ed Helms and Owen Wilson as brothers, not to mention buying them as twins. After seeing the movie, I still do not really buy them as twins, but I thought their relationship was one of the better parts of this movie. I got a sense of how far back these two characters go. Their chemistry together felt natural so it was easy to believe the two characters have known each other their entire lives.
I liked the chemistry between the two actors, enjoyed the dynamic they had together, and found myself caught off guard by how much heart they give this movie. It is a very silly movie with a ridiculous premise but, at its core, this movie is about two brothers coming together. They do not exactly get along with each other but they bond over a shared goal. What I thought would be one of the movie’s weakest areas, the dynamic between these two actors, ended up being one of its strengths.
Con: Predictable (-6pts)
I liked the premise but, after everything was setup, you know where the story ends. This story ends with the brothers finding out the identity of their father. What you do not know is who exactly the father is or whether or not he is even alive. The problem is not that the ending is predictable, the problem is that everything leading up to it is. Have you ever seen an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation or Law and Order: Special Victims Unit where they catch “the bad guy” only twenty minutes into an hour long show? As a viewer you know that it is not actually the bad guy because it is way too early into the story.
The result is that you feel like the whole thing is a waste of time even though the main characters are convinced they have got the guy. This movie suffers from the same issue. The brothers find someone who they think is their father even though the viewers know it is way too early in the movie for that to be true. This causes the movie to lose a bit of steam. The brothers get all excited to meet their father but the audience is not invested in it because they know it is not really him. What this ends up doing is temporarily take the viewers out of the story.
Pro: The Comedy (+4pts)
Father Figures was a silly movie. The premise is ridiculous, the main actors are very much comedic actors, and the characters end up in plenty of awkward and comedic situations. It is not the funniest, most original comedy out there, but it is mildly entertaining. Father Figures is full of plot issues, but the comedy works. It never takes itself too seriously and, while the comedy is not very memorable, it will keep audiences laughing throughout.
Con: Unsatisfying End (-6pts)
Maybe this had to do with the story losing so much steam after meeting multiple potential fathers, but once the brothers found out the truth, I found myself pretty disappointed. It is just that it did not feel like there was a significant payoff to justify the whole movie. In addition to learning the fate and identity of their father, we also learn more from the mother that makes the whole story feel pointless. It was just a very messy and unsatisfying end.
Grade: C- (72pts)
Father Figures has the kind of ridiculous premise that you want from a silly comedy like this. Unfortunately, the plot suffers from a few issues. The mom seems entirely unjustified in her reason for lying to her sons for so long, and the story gets pretty predictable due to meeting potential fathers too early in the movie‘s runtime. While I do not like picking apart the plot of a silly comedy, these issues hurt the viewer‘s ability to get invested in the story.
Fortunately, the premise creates a lot of amusing, awkward moments and the comedy, for the most part, works. Owen Wilson and Ed Helms are both talented comedic actors who are no strangers to awkward comedy at their characters’ expense. One element of the movie that pleasantly surprised me was the relationship between the two brothers. Father Figures has a lot of plot issues but the comedy is moderately entertaining and the relationship between the brothers gives the story a lot of heart.