September 13, 2007

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The Brothers Solomon (PG-13)
Will Arnett undoes all the good work of Arrested Development in terms of my opinions about his abilities while Will Forte confirms my feelings about Saturday Night Live with The Brothers Solomon, a lame little comedy that actually started to annoy me during the credits.

During the credits, Forte and Arnett bounce around in front of bright, spring-Skittles-colored backgrounds smiling moron man-boy smiles. Ugh, is the whole movie gonna be like this, I thought. Yes, is the answer.

Dean (Forte) and John (Arnett) Solomon have been home-schooled all their lives by their dad and as a result have the kind of social skills one might expect from person of low IQ raised in a bubble with a steady diet of 1980s sitcoms and Prozac. Their beatific smiles and complete ignorance of appropriate social behavior have made it difficult for them to meet women (John tries to pick girls up by creepily paying for all their groceries and then barring their way out of the supermarket; Dean kissed the father of his latest blind date square on the mouth). When their father falls into a coma and the doctor tells the boys he said something about wanting to see his grandchild, the boys decide that despite their romantic woes, they are going to try to make a baby for dad.

After dating fails them, they try adoption and then move on to surrogate motherhood. They find Janine (Kristen Wig), a woman who despite initially thinking the men are weird losers and over the objections of her angry boyfriend James (Chi McBride) decides she’ll help the boys out and have their kid. Perhaps the $12,000 they agree to pay her has something to do with that.

Oh, ha ha!, the comedy this movie mines — wacky sperm bank high jinks, practice parenting on a doll, coma humor (the boys move their dad, equipment and all, into their apartment). It’s all so rich — why hasn’t nobody’s ever farmed these fertile comedy fields before? Or, should I say, why are movies still allowed to act like such SitCom 101 nonsense isn’t the cheapest form of hackery?

Everything about this movie is self-conscious — from Arnett and Forte’s performances to the ever-so-stilted dialogue, this movie is in love with what it thinks is its own cleverness and is smugly certain that we’ll be charmed as well. Everybody seems to be doing a bit, every piece of dialogue feels jokey (not funny, jokey — there’s a difference) and every joke is dragged out seemingly endless minutes too long. D

Rated R for language and sexual content. Directed by Bob Odenkirk and written by Will Forte, The Brothers Solomon is an hour and 31 minutes long and is distributed in bafflingly wide release by Screen Gems.