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Brothers Solomon fails to deliver

Cassie Belek | Monday, September 10, 2007

It’s a shame that people with such great comedic talent can make such a humorless and boring film as “The Brothers Solomon.” It’s difficult to put the blame on any one person, but within the first 10 minutes of the slow-moving comedy, the audience knows it’s in for a stinker.

Of course, there’s only so much a person can do with the material that he or she is given. Will Forte (“Saturday Night Live”) pens the script and also co-stars as Dean Solomon. Dean and his brother John (Will Arnett) resolve to give their father, Ed (Lee Majors), a grandson as his dying wish. But the two brothers (who happened to be home-schooled at the North Pole) aren’t very lucky with the ladies, and they eventually settle on a surrogate – Janine (fellow “SNL” player Kristen Wiig).

Forte’s script isn’t all bad. The funny is there; we just never see it on the screen. Blame that on director Bob Odenkirk, who hasn’t spearheaded any significant projects prior to “The Brothers Solomon.” There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but everything in between feels drawn-out, and many of the gags fall far short of being comedic. Between Odenkirk’s directing and Forte’s writing, the movie is left with implausible situations and far too many underdeveloped characters.

The most tragic aspect of “Brothers Solomon” is that the cast is filled with some of the comedic world’s best. Arnett stole scene after scene as Gob in the now-defunct “Arrested Development,” but he perhaps draws too much on the character he played in that late, great sitcom. His character here, John, evokes no sympathy and instead borders on creepy and psychotic. As for the “Saturday Night Live” cast members in the movie, Forte is harmless enough, but Wiig is disappointingly underused. As the lead female, her character is as boring as any of the stock female characters thrown into male comedies for the sole purpose of advancing what little plot actually exists. Wiig deserves better material than what she is given – maybe even a joke or two.

The only funny character that we actually come to like is Janine’s on-again, off-again boyfriend James, played by Chi McBride – a wonderful television actor seen in the upcoming ABC series “Pushing Daisies.” Maybe James is the funniest because he’s the most realistic of all the characters. John is too forceful, Dean isn’t forceful enough, Tara is too mean and Janine shows no passion for anything. James is just right.

In addition to the director and actors, quite a bit of blame lies with Forte – a talented but unspectacular “Saturday Night Live” cast member. He’s good enough when it comes to sketch comedy, but writing sketch comedy isn’t the same as writing a feature film. And just like “Saturday Night Live” sometimes struggles to find proper endings for sketches, Forte fails to find a proper ending for “The Brothers Solomon.” The conclusion (which doesn’t come quickly enough) seems almost like an afterthought, a way to quickly tie up loose ends for characters we care too little about.

After a summer dominated by Judd Apatow and his legion of smart, sophisticated and funny actors, writers and directors, “The Brothers Solomon” only succeeds in making us wish that another Apatow project were in theaters right now. Not every comedy has to be a commentary on society, but it should at least make us laugh more than seven times. In this post-Apatow world, we have raised our comedy standards, and “The Brothers Solomon” fails to measure up in too many ways