Wednesday, April 11, 2018

‘Blu-ray or Bust’ - FATHER FIGURES

‘Blu-ray or Bust’

Time.  It used to be that Hollywood knew how to manage that so elusive of measurements, when certain genres of film held to certain standards of what was too much and what was too little.

Marvel movies typically clock in around two hours and fifteen minutes, and rarely do they waste much time in those films.  Most dramas are about two hours long, and most animated films are twenty minutes to half an hour shorter than that. Back in the day, comedies were roughly an hour and a half long; as of late, however, studios have run them an uncomfortable amount longer.  With the recent exception of THE HEAT (just under two hours), very few of these “comedies” are worth the extra time.  Take DADDY’S HOME 2, for example: at an hour and forty minutes, it could have been better with ten to fifteen minutes left on the cutting room floor (okay, honestly, it would have been better with an hour-and-a-half left on the cutting room floor…).

Another case in point is the long-winded FATHER FIGURES.  At almost two hours long, there is a much better film hidden here, and it is only about eighty-five minutes long.  Owen Wilson and Ed Helms play twins (which should be your first warning) who discover that the man their mother always told them was their father is, in fact, not.  They embark on a road trip in search of their real dad, and hilarity is supposed to ensue.

Only it doesn’t.  There are a few funny moments tucked away amidst all of the jokes and gags that do not work, and they are too inconsistent to keep you interested.  This is another case of casting just not being enough to save a sorry script (see tomorrow’s review for more on that); Terry Bradshaw, J.K. Simmons, and Christopher Walken all make appearances as prospective daddies, and of the three, Simmons is the only one that I wanted to see more of.  He and an impressively effective Katt Williams as a hitchhiker are the two shining moments of this film, but neither are given enough time to make enough of a difference to save it.  Even having Glenn Close play mom is a waste of talent.

Another distraction in the film is that there are a few moments when you feel as though Wilson and Helms are trying to channel their inner Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, respectively.  The unintentional impressions, seen mostly through their delivery in certain scenes, makes you wonder whom director Lawrence Sher really had in mind for these parts.  The only actors that seem indispensable in their roles are Simmons and Williams; the former is perfect as the questionable morals dad, and the latter…  While Katt Williams may have stirred up controversy in the last few years via his arrest record, his timing and muted prowess is a wonder to behold.  But again, not enough to warrant you running out and purchasing this film.

This film represents Sher’s first attempt at directing; he is a cinematographer at heart, and may want to stick with that day job.  He did fine work on several other—and better—comedies, but he seems to have taken the wrong lessons from those films.

Film Grade: D+
Special Features: Do you really think I wanted to subject myself to further disappointment?
Blu-ray Necessary: Oh hell no

 -- T.S.Kummelman

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