[Screen It]

(2017) (Ed Helms, Owen Wilson) (R)

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Comedy: Adult twin brothers learn that their mother lied about who their dad was and set off on a quest to find their real father, learning along the way that their mom was quite promiscuous.
Peter (ED HELMS) and Kyle (OWEN WILSON) Reynolds are twin brothers, who have been opposites all their lives. Peter is a divorced proctologist, who has a strained relationship with his young son. Kyle got lucky as the cover model on a popular bottle of barbecue sauce and has been living essentially as a wealthy beach bum in Hawaii ever since. He is finally in love, though, with a beautiful Hawaiian woman named Kaylani (JESSICA GOMES), and they are expecting their first child together.

The siblings are forced to come together, though, when their mom, Helen (GLENN CLOSE), confesses that the man she has always told them was their father and who had passed away before they were born was just a friend. She was a promiscuous woman back in the 1970s, and their dad is likely NFL legend Terry Bradshaw (HIMSELF).

Peter and Kyle set off to meet the former football great, but soon learn that their dad could be one of several men including a New York car thief named Roland (J.K. SIMMONS), a legendary New England cop named O'Callaghan (JACK McGEE), or Dr. Tinkler (CHRISTOPHER WALKEN), the veterinarian who's been in their lives since children. Along the way, Peter and Kyle befriend a funny hitchhiker (KATT WILLIAMS) and Peter has a one-night stand with a woman named Sarah (KATIE ASELTON) who could end up being his sister.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
The new comedy "Father Figures" could almost be described as "the new drama." In fact, probably the best way to describe it is as a comedy-drama or "dramedy." It's pretty evenly balanced, despite the trailer and commercials that make it look like a hilariously contrived romp featuring the star of "The Hangover" and the star of "Wedding Singers" as twin brothers on a quest to find their real biological father.

Watching it made me wonder what the original intent was. Did screenwriter Justin Malen sit down to write a broad, jokey comedy about a once-promiscuous young woman in the 1970s who slept with everyone from football great Terry Bradshaw to her local veterinarian and really didn't know who the father of her twin sons is? Or was it a more serious movie he envisioned, centering on two directionless thirty-something men looking for identity?

Elements of both are in "Father Figures." It's an uneven movie that tries to blend scenes of Owen Wilson getting into a urinating contest with a child in a public men's room and Terry Bradshaw and Ving Rhames graphically recalling sex in the 1970s with a young Glenn Close with moments like Ed Helms angrily and tearfully realizing he's dedicated his whole life and life's work to a man who never actually existed.

Helms and Wilson play twin brothers Peter and Kyle Reynolds, who find out on their mother's wedding day that the man they thought was their father (who died of cancer before they were born) was not their dad. Mom was apparently so promiscuous back in her Studio 54 days that dad could have been a car thief, a legendary Boston cop, a neighborhood vet, or the MVP of Super Bowl XIV. Needless to say, the two men are hoping for Bradshaw and his four NFL championship rings. But their quest takes them to all four men, with Oscar winner J.K. Simmons doing predictably funny-creepy work as the dirtbag car thief and Christopher Walken removing all punctuation from his scripted lines to deliver a suitably weird performance as a shaky-handed pet doctor.

"Father Figures" is a likable film that is being released totally at the wrong time of the year. This feels more like a March or September kind of film. It's raunchy in spots, but not uproarious. It's poignant in other places, but never a tear-jerker. It's actually a modest endeavor that is at its worst when it's trying to be too zany or wacky for easy scene pulls to go into the trailers and commercials, like Simmons getting hit with a Ferrari driven by Helms or Bradshaw thoroughly grossing out Helms and Wilson with his detailed remembrances of he and their mother in bed.

The film shines brightest when Helms and Wilson are given side characters to play off who are as playful as they are. Katt Williams is very memorable as a hitchhiker the two pick up, who they like but fear might be a killer. So they tie him up, but he maintains his same kooky and good-natured sense of humor from the backseat as the two siblings bicker harder and harder. I also liked Katie Aselton as a woman Peter picks up in a hotel bar, has a one-night stand with, then later in the film learns could very well be his half-sister. Kyle whispering to Peter "Maybe THAT's why the sex was so good!" and Peter's horrified reaction at the possibility is one of the comic highlights of the film.

If you go to "Father Figures" not expecting too much, just hoping not to be let down, I think you'll have a good time. In fact, that's a good way to be with dads in general. We're all trying. Sometimes we lean more towards the dramatic than the comedic. Sometimes vice versa. But we're always trying. I give this a 5.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed December 20, 2017 / Posted December 22, 2017

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