“Father Figures” is an earnest drama about brotherly love that’s masquerading as an R-rated gross-out comedy. Sometimes touching and never funny, the project is being grossly mismarketed as a laugh-a-minute yukkfest. When a film is this confusing it sets itself up for failure and makes it impossible to please anyone.
Comedy powerhouses Owen Wilson and Ed Helms play Kaye and Peter Reynolds, twin brothers whose eccentric and former wild child mom (Glenn Close) raised them after their father died. When the men discover that mom has lied all these years and she doesn’t truly know who their real daddy is, they set off on an ill-fated road trip to discover the true identity of their long lost pop.
Along the way they meet a string of potential daddies, from retired athlete Rod (Ving Rhames), NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw (as himself), and petty thief Roland (a very funny J.K. Simmons). By the end of the film the guys uncover the truth, and it’s unexpected and remarkably touching with its sincerity. The story doesn’t work as a buddy comedy but it does hit some high notes as a journey of discovery and the bond between brothers. Too bad the best parts of the script don’t fit with the rest of the film.
The disjointed storylines are uninspired and off-putting, including a head-scratching bit with a hitchhiker (Katt Williams) that again tries to be both funny and heartwarming but fails miserably. Maybe this movie was test marketed to death and when the audiences said they were disappointed that it wasn’t a mainstream comedy, the studio rushed to add in failed attempts at gross-out jokes.
“Father Figures” isn’t an inherently bad movie, it just suffers from a serious identity crisis.