In Brief: Half Brothers is a half-baked comedy. No, wait, make that completely baked.
Half Brothers is a road movie. It’s billed as a comedy/drama. It’s neither funny nor all that dramatic. Though most of the movie is done in English, Half Brothers is not an American release and comes to us via Mexico.
Renato loves and idolizes his dad. They do everything together and he contends they’re not father and son as much as they are pals. Mexico’s economy crashes in the mid-1990s and his father leaves for greener pastures in the U.S.
Dad never returns and they never see each other again.
Fast-forward to present day. Renato is wound up tighter than the proverbial eight-day clock and his bride-to-be says his tension is all based in his father not coming back. Then Renato gets a phone call and learns his now estranged father is dying. She urges him to go to the U.S. to set things straight.
He does and it’s there Renato meets his half brother, Asher.
Dad wants to explain to Renato why he didn’t return and can’t just tell him. This is where I have to stop my synopsis. If dad explained things you’d have a six-minute movie instead of one that runs 1:36 and you’d save yourself 90-minutes of boredom.
Instead of telling his two boys exactly why he didn’t return to Mexico, daddy sends the boys on a road trip. The explanation is in the clues at each stop. Of course, misadventures lie in the direction of the answer. Adding to the pressure, Renato has to return to Mexico in a few days for his wedding.
Half Brothers is directed by Luke Greenfield who did The Girl Next Door in 2004. Though it wasn’t all that hot, a porn star moving in next door to a high school kid is a lot funnier than a road movie. At least it’s an original idea.
The concept of “Half Brothers was developed by Ali LeRoi and Edwardo Cisneros. The latter hasn’t done anything you’re likely familiar with but LeRoi is known for producing TV’s The Chris Rock Show, Everyone Hates Chris and TV’s Are We There Yet.
Cisneros got charged with writing the screenplay with Jason Shuman. His claim to fame is as an executive producer of the Mark Walberg war flick, Lone Survivor.
As I noted earlier, I’m not a fan of road trip movies. Before I move on and go back to Half Brothers, I will say there is one road picture that I love and that sits in my top-10 most favorite movies. And since we just left Thanksgiving, it deserves a mention. The film is 1987’s Planes, Trains & Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy. It’s the best both actors ever were and the best Home Alone’s director, John Hughes ever was Though it’s rather dated, the film is flat out hilarious.
One more aside. Please don’t confuse this movie with 2008’s almost equally awful comedy Step Brothers. All that separates the two films is John C. Reilly and Will Farrell being better actors. Well, at least Reilly can make that claim. Farrell tends to play characters as stupid as that of unknown Connor Del Rio who plays one of the two half brothers.
By the way, while his co-star — and one of Mexico’s biggest stars, Luis Gerardo Mendez manages a decent performance — Del Rio is so bad that he’s likely to remain unknown.
Director: Luke Greenfield
Stars: Luis Gerardo Mendez, Connor Del Rio, Juan Pablo Espinosa, Vincent Spano, Jose Zuniga
Rated a hard PG-13 for mature themes and some language. Lots of potential here that just never got realized. Rate it 1 1/2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
Right now Half Brothers can’t be seen in theaters in Oregon and Washington because of the COVID shutdown. However, it can be found in some theaters in other parts of the country and the producers say they’ll put it on view on demand in the next couple of weeks.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.