Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best
"Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best" (eat your heart out, "Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie!") Seriously: the supposedly fictional band of the title is a combination of self-described "depressing" lyrics and background noise provided by children’s toys. Both of the members are bearded, middle-aged, and unemployed Brooklyn white guys who are apparently financially secure even without jobs, and they team up when Jim (the one with the children’s toys) continually punches Alex (the depressing one dressed in a moose outfit) in the face until he agrees to form a band with him. This picture is derived from the unfunny subconscious of someone who’s been living out of the back corner of an Anthropologie store for the past few years.
I admit, it has moments where it suggests quality. As a director, Sean O’Nan (he also writes, and plays Alex) is, to damn him with faint praise, competent: his compositions are static, he gets the dialogue delivered at a snappy, screwball pace, and occasionally (not often) the lines even suggest the existence of wit. But unfortunately, much like the aforementioned "Tim and Eric," quality cinema is not what "Brookyln Brothers" is after.
Like "Tim and Eric," the film seems designed to push personas more than fulfill audiences: the Brothers have, since the film was picked up, been signed to a record deal and have begun to perform live (I can’t help but assume this was the goal of the film in the first place, more than making a decent film.) Yes, yet another bland indy film that feels as much like an infomercial (looking at you, "Sleepwalk with Me") as it does a narrative story.
But that’s not where the "Tim and Eric" comparisons stop. Like that film, it drags in ’celebrities’ in an attempt to transfer some of their prestige to our "stars." But where that picture had Will Ferrell and national treasure John C. Reilly to help fill time, this one has Wilder Valderama (yes, he still exists) and Melissa Leo. Is this what passes for ’cool’ nowadays? Between the ’guest stars’ and the trying-way-too-hard humor - at one point, in a scene probably meant to be edgy but instead just sad and borderline offensive, Alex plays to a group of mentally challenged people in a home - "Brooklyn Brothers" feels like a shitty TV pilot that wouldn’t even be good enough to earn a 3AM slot on Comedy Central.
Not to mention that it can never decide what it wants to be. Is it a commercial for the band? The endless montages and celebration of their music make it seem so. Is it a sappy coming of age flick? There are scenes, with O’Nan getting to make out with a hot body-pierced woman, that suggest he’s in it for the wish fulfillment. Is it an indy cry for respect? A long digression with Alex’s right-wing, repressive, music-hating family suggest the picture is little more than "anti-establishment" catharsis (as if the cartoon characters on display here are a normal facet of O’Nan’s world, as opposed to constructs created through caricatures of Fox News types.
At the end of the day, we don’t care what it ends up being, because no matter what angle you grasp onto - the guest stars, the sappy stuff, the liberal wish fulfillment, or the music - it’s all pretty bad. O’Nan throws everything at the wall, but none of it sticks. The Brooklyn Brothers may beat the best, but their movie is the worst.