Star Rating:

Father Figures

Director: Lawrence Sher

Actors: Owen Wilson, Glenn Close, Ed Helms

Release Date: Friday 16th February 2018

Genre(s): Factual

Running time: 113 minutes

Uptight Ed Helms has just been robbed. At his mother's (Close) wedding (to Harry Shearer) he learns that former football hero Terry Bradshaw is actually his father, and not the man his mother told him died of colon cancer when he was just a boy. This knocks him for six as his father's illness is what encouraged him to pursue a career in medicine, when he would have loved to be a NFL star. True to form laidback twin brother Owen Wilson takes it in his stride and reckons he and Helms should hit the road to meet Bradshaw. Only he's not their father, it's this other guy…

… and so on and so forth. The bulk of this so-so comedy from writer Justin Malen (whose scripts for Godzilla 2 and Sherlock Holmes 3 are in the pipe) concerns itself with the hapless brothers zipping about the country thinking one man after another (Simmons among them) is their father before disappointment reigns and clues lead them elsewhere. Along the way the brothers put aside their differences – they haven't spoken in two years – and bond. That's the guts of it: an occasionally funny bromance road movie that has one or two surprises to upend any predictions about the inevitable climax.

The thing is there's a gaping hole in its theme. The opening ten minutes is at pains to emphasise that divorced Helms is stuck in a rut, compounded by the fact that his son doesn't want to be around him (he calls him an "asshole" at one point). As the film is called Father Figures you'd be forgiven in thinking that Helms reflecting on his non relationship with his son as he flits about looking for his own absent father would be a major factor. Not so. The story forgets about all that and instead delves into the brothers' relationship, and Helms emerging from his funk by finally having the courage to chat women up at the bar.

It tries to be too many things to too many people. There's a little gross out comedy (a cat's giant testicles is given a close up; Wilson urinates on a boy in a public bathroom), works too hard to shoehorn road movie clichés into the mix (Katt Williams' brief appearance as a hitchhiker distracts) and there's an abundance of mortification (the sexist jokes aimed by most of the cast at Close's former promiscuity are outdated).