Director: Lawrence Sher
Screenplay: Justin Malen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, J. K. Simmons, Katt Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Ving Rhames, Harry Shearer, June Squibb, Christopher Walken, Glenn Close
Runtime: 113 Minutes
If anything about Father Figures looks familiar, beyond its bland method of shooting, poor lighting, horribly photoshopped poster and the otherwise respectable cast of faces being wheeled out for a quick paycheck, it’s because it was originally supposed to be released in 2016 under a completely different title; Bastards.
It’s moved places a few other times before being eventually thrown out now by Warner Bros. Pictures, but why it wasn’t sent to a streaming service at this point is baffling. They clearly thought they might get something from it, but even for a film that’s been sat on the shelf for too long, there was never a chance in hell that this was going to get anything other than a tepid response at best.
Upon learning that their mother has been lying to them for years about their allegedly deceased father, two fraternal twin brothers – Kyle (Owen Wilson) and Peter Reynolds (Ed Helms) – hit the road in order to find him.
Right off the bat, Wilson and Helms aren’t in the least bit convincing as brothers, let along people who share the same planet. The black hole that hovers somewhere where their chemistry should be is the all-consuming force of destruction that sucks everything into it. Wilson bums around with his wealthy bohemian schtick, and Helms is just an aggravating and unlikable irritant like most of the other self-loathing straight man roles that he tends to play.
Other famous faces turn up as prospective fathers, but beyond J.K. Simmons in a briefly energetic role as a shouty criminal, none of them work or are used effectively.
The repeated cycles of meeting the prospective father, not immediately asking questions that matter, the initial false reunion and the realisation of their mistake repeats multiple times to no real effect. Even the opportunities later to make it more interesting are suffocated under poor writing and staging by an incredibly boring director.
The biggest failing of this empty nothing of a road trip comedy other than having nothing original to say about brotherhood, fatherhood or anything else, is that it’s doesn’t appear to have packed any jokes on its journey. It runs out the clock on a dull story with dull characters and dull conflicts.