FATHER FIGURES is a family vacation worth skipping
Father Figures arrives just days before the new year to stake claim as the least entertaining movie of the year. Promoted as “a great Christmas comedy,” Father Figures has nothing to do with Christmas, nor is it actually funny. Then again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when former NFL player Terry Bradshaw is cast as a key player in the movie.
Written by Justin Malen (who wrote the equally painful Office Christmas Party) and with first-time director Lawrence Sher behind the camera, both have clearly bitten off more than they can chew. Sher’s lengthy career as a cinematographer proves that sometimes it’s better to stay in your own lane. And Hollywood better hope that Malen can come up with something better for his upcoming sequels to Bad Teacher 2 and Sherlock Holmes 3, two films for which his name is attached. Heck, these are two guys who have a cast that includes Academy Award nominee Glenn Close and Academy Award winners Christopher Walken and J.K. Simmons, yet somehow find a way to completely waste their talent.
Owen Wilson and Ed Helms star as estranged brothers on a mission to find out who their real father is, criss-crossing the country to fill in the missing piece of their lives. Helms plays Peter, a straight-laced divorced GI doctor whose young son describes him as always angry, pissed off, and an “a–hole.” Wilson, on the other hand, is the opposite, playing Kyle, a guy who fell into money by being featured on bottles of a popular bbq sauce, believes that the “universe points you in the right direction,” and who we are to understand is quirky by the white leather jacket and silly bow tie he wears to their mother’s (Close) wedding.
As Wilson and Helms meet a list of possible fathers, we are left with sight gags Like Owen Wilson peeing on a kid, cliché lines like “life sucks” and “life is hard”, and punchlines that land so poorly that you have to assume improv was banned on set. In the throws of passion, Helms tells a woman he doesn’t “manscape” only to reveal a moderately hairy chest. In another scene, in which Helms is sleeping in the car, Wilson honks the horn to which Helms responds “you f-cking honked.” Oh, those don’t sound funny here? Sadly, they’re even less funny in the movie.
Father Figures can’t decide on whether it wants to be a comedy or drama and ultimately fails at both. Here’s to one movie where the father was the lucky one for not being a part of this family.