Father Figures

… the priest who solved for Christ

T he trick to most stupid comedies is low expectations. If you agree to watch a stupid film with a stupid premise aimed at stupid people, it’s best to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised if you laugh at all. And that is how I, more-or-less, “enjoyed” Father Figures.

Peter (Ed Helms) and Kyle (Owen Wilson) are brothers who have never known their father. For years, mom (Glenn Close) made up some crap about colon cancer claiming dad’s life – which spurred Peter’s decision to aim for the profession of proctologist – however, she confesses after her marriage to Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls that it was a big fat lie. Dad could be any number of people; mom got around. Five minutes in and you’ve hit me with the main character being an ass doctor and mom got more play than a viral kitten video. Thanks, movie. You’re the best!

Hence, two middle-age brothers go questing to find the identity of dad. Gee mom, maybe the “Father Figure” is George Michael.  Wouldn’t that be both funny and apt?  No?  You won’t make that joke, but you’ll make this one:  First, mom fingers Terry Bradshaw.  You give me puerile material; I’ll give it right back. Yes, possible dad #1 is Terry Bradshaw, four-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback, that Terry Bradshaw, all so we can get he and Ving Rhames to exchange “dick whisperer” jokes. Now, normally at this point, I’d be ready to walk out of the film, but I told myself I could expect no better than lowbrow humor given the premise. And, truth? Once Katt Williams is introduced as a drifter in need of a lift, Father Figures improves significantly.

The biggest problem I have with Father Figures is the uselessness of task – boys, if you and mom could just sit down and talk this out, you might learn something and save us all from a disappointing journey. Mom, Ed Helms is in his mid-forties. Don’t give me that crap about “it’s not yet time for the talk…” I think by now you can be honest about who is father to your sons, because you know what this looks like? A stupid excuse to get Ed Helms and Owen Wilson to have “adventures.” What mother does that? The next biggest problem I have with this film is that the reveal is a heaping pile of dung; I cannot give it away, but I will say this: if the premise by itself intrigued you enough to want closure, be careful what you ask for.

I did laugh a few times in this film and while I didn’t buy the happy ending, I know some of you might. There’s a Catch-22 right there – a pensive resolution might have made for a more realistic effort, but it wouldn’t have fit the tone and thus undermined an already poor film. A happy ending seals the stupidity in its juices so to speak, insuring sub-mediocrity in the round, but no worse. I see it as adding stomachache/walking-home-alone to the end of a blind date at McDonald’s; it may well have fit the bill, but perhaps it’s better just to pretend that everything went swimmingly and the couple is now married. Sure. Why not?

♪Mom says he might be that QB
When I ask, “Who is daddy?”
Games he played back when love was free
I just wonder, “Who is daddy?”

I try to figure out because I’m quite a tool
And middle-age hasn’t taught me patience
It’s time to take a drive
And visit #5

“Who’s daddy?” I ask
And wince in my special way
“Daddy?” Repeat
“I know you heard me.”
“Who’s daddy?” I whine
And search again some other way
Why won’t she just say? ♫

Rated R, 113 Minutes
Director: Lawrence Sher
Writer: Justin Malen
Genre: The one where nothing is gained nor learned
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: People into “Your Mom” jokes
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: Adults

♪ Parody Inspired by “Who’s Johnny?”

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