Father Figures (2017): A Very Bastardizing Film

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“Father Figures” is directed by Lawrence Sher in his directorial debut. This guy has done cinematography for movies such as “The Hangover,” “War Dogs,” and the 2005 film adaptation of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” The film stars Owen Wilson (Cars, Wedding Crashers), Ed Helms (The Office, Vacation), JK Simmons (Whiplash, Juno), Katt Williams (Norbit, Scary Movie 5), Terry Bradshaw (The Cannonball Run, Failure to Launch), Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible, Pulp Fiction), and also features Christopher Walken (The Jungle Book, The Deer Hunter), along with Glenn Close. This film’s about two fraternal twins who find out the truth about their allegedly dead father has been a lie. The information concerning this has been hidden by their mother for years, leading to the twins going out to seek their real father.

I first heard about this film back in 2016, and I was wondering for a while, “What happened to this film?” Well, here it is now. Why did I hear about it that early? Turns out there was a trailer for a comedy that was supposed to release in January of this year, AKA this exact film, and at the end, we see a title card with the word “Bastards.” The name does make sense considering the technical definition for a bastard is a child whose birthparents weren’t married at the time of the child’s birth, which is true to the twins in the movie. Although I’m willing to bet they changed the name to “Father Figures” because to some people it might be weird walking around and talking about a movie called “Bastards” since the word is associated with vulgarity. Who’s they? I don’t know. I’m willing to bet it’s either the director or the studio, one of those two. Nevertheless, I think this movie shouldn’t have been called “Father Figures.” I don’t even think it should be called “Bastards.” You know what it should be called? “Bastard.” Just “Bastard.” And that’s because this movie felt like a total bastard! This is probably the worst comedy I’ve seen all year! This movie brought almost two hours of inglorious bastardization into my life!

I would like to take a second to apologize to Quentin Tarantino, I just probably ingloriously bastardized him if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen a number of s*itty comedies in 2017, but even at the end of the year, I’m still coming across them. I think I found the pinnacle of s*it when it comes to this year in comedy. “Father Figures” is a f*cking bastard and I’m about to tell you why in just a second! But before I go into why, let me go over some of the other crap I’ve seen this year when it comes to comedy.

First off, we have “Snatched,” which I saw in May. The movie’s about a mother and daughter going away to paradise, which doesn’t end up going well because they get captured and some other s*it happens. I knew going into this particular film it was going to be bad, but there was one really funny scene and there was a character that I kind of liked.

Next we have “How to Be a Latin Lover,” which was just awkward as hell to watch. It’s about a guy who is dumped by his elderly wife. He has to move in with his sister, played by Salma Hayek, and adjust to normal society after living a spoiled life. I bought the movie used for $9.99 on Blu-ray, which isn’t too bad of a deal for a Blu-ray if you ask me, but I still suffered through the unfunny jokes and awkward story full of mostly unlikable characters.

I also saw “Fist Fight,” which admittedly, is nowhere near as unwatchable as the other two films I mentioned, but is still something I would say technically qualifies as a waste of time. What’s the plot? Just take the basic idea of “Three O’Clock High” and make the teachers fight instead of the students. I just thought it contained too many predictable attempts at humor and forced sex jokes.

I’d probably rather watch any of these comedies before “Father Figures.” “How to Be a Latin Lover” is a tad debatable but in reality, “Father Figures” is just a comedy that should have never been made. I will admit, when I saw the first trailer for the film released in 2016, part of me was looking forward to this movie. Sure, I like Owen Wilson. Sure, I like Ed Helms. There’s someone I admire more in this movie compared to them, specifically JK f*cking Simmons! JK’s one of my favorite actors of all time! And if you put him in, well, anything for that matter, I’ll watch it. You can even put him in a movie called “Don’t Watch This Piece of Crap,” it can be eight minutes including credits, it can be a guy bloodied up screaming for help on pavement, and I’ll still check it out because JK Simmons was in it. Granted, I don’t think his performance was that bad. In fact, I have to say it’s one of the more redeemable parts of the entire film.

Speaking of likable performances. Terry Bradshaw was playing himself in this film. It almost gave me a similar vibe to seeing Sam Jones in “Ted” based on the chemistry between him and the two main characters.

Moving onto our recently suggested main characters, we have Kyle, played by Owen Wilson, alongside Peter, played by Ed Helms. Seeing these two together, I can somewhat buy into them being twins, but the whole ride they take during the movie was just a wreck. Neither of them are funny, they have a couple of moments where they disagree with each other and get in arguments, I just wanted to leave at some points instead of watch the duo compare themselves to one another every now and then.

This movie just feels like it has too much going on in it. When we get to what almost feels like the climax, the movie just goes on like its jacked up on Red Bull. It’s just an absolute marathon of twists and turns and it’s just too much to process for a simple comedy! In fact I gotta say, one of the twists, which admittedly, reminded me of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, was actually ruined about ten or so minutes after it happens! So yeah, f*ck everything I guess!

Let’s also talk about Glenn Close’s character of Helen. At the beginning of the film, it’s established that Helen is the mother of both these boys. I’m just wondering, why would she lie about the father of her sons? First off, they’re adults, and I’m not adopted, but if I were, I’d want to know as soon as possible! As far as telling anyone else, I’d probably think to myself before whether or not I do that, but still. I also have to say that she mentioned that Terry Bradshaw was the actual father of the two kids, and Ed Helms’s reaction almost seemed like it could have been done differently. This is a man he idolized, someone he has high appreciation for, and he grew up during his youth never knowing Bradshaw was his dad?! I’ve grown up idolizing Howie Mandel, and if my mother kept a secret until a point such as this, or even longer for that matter, that Howie Mandel was my real father, you know what I’d do? I’d lose my f*cking mind! I might break a window! I might light my house on fire! I might slap my mother in the face! I’m not kidding! I would be in utter shock, and perhaps apalled upon why I had a secret like this kept from me for so long! I’d be happy to know Howie was my father but… why wait so long?

*SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH*

Speaking of idiocy, I’m gonna talk about a scene involving a train and an automobile. Sorry, planes, you have to sit out on this one. There’s one scene where the two main characters are in a car with each other, they’re still on their quest to find their dad, and at one point, they pick up a hitchhiker, played by Katt Williams. Due to Ed Helms being somewhat apprehensive about the fate of himself along with the fate of his brother, the hitchhiker is sitting in the back with his hands cuffed up. At one point, the car stops, and the two begin to argue. Moments later, we as an audience find out the car is stuck on a train track, but the two brothers are too focused on arguing back and forth so they don’t notice an approaching train. The one who does notice the train however is the hitchhiker, he’s trying to warn the two, but they don’t listen. As the light is coming closer, and the hitchhiker is still alerting the duo, they finally notice the train. So they attempt to escape. Ed Helms and Katt Williams make it out of the car, but the train slams the car, suggesting that it could have killed Owen Wilson. But it didn’t, he’s completely fine. WHAT THE F*CK?!

This is honestly just insulting! I get this is a comedy, but I would appreciate it more if it was logical. I don’t need another “Daddy’s Home” Ford Flex goes through the house and Will Ferrell isn’t badly hurt situation if you get what I’m saying. Remember “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2?” I honestly bought into the fact that Paul Blart could trap himself in a suitcase, slide downward on a bunch of steps, fall into a pool in said suitcase, have water come inside it, allow himself to exit the suitcase, and get out of the water alive more than this.

I do remember watching a movie in the past with a scene somewhat similar to this. There’s an extended cut to Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” referred to as “Spider-Man 2.1,” which might even be better than the original cut if you ask me. In that version of the film, part of the extended footage in that film is included on the train fight scene. Doc Ock and Spidey are going at it against each other, and Doc is holding onto the Web Slinger with his tentacles. Spider-Man has his feet on the side of one of the train cars, and he’s hit a bunch of closeby objects. Soon he turns his head, a train is quickly approaching him. Spider-Man gets hit by a train, but he instantly gets back to fighting like the hit was just a normal Tuesday in the office. Here’s the thing however. Spider-Man has superpowers, Kyle from “Father Figures” on the other hand, is an average human. Spider-Man has enough strength in him to walk something like this off, Kyle should have died. In fact, while Kyle dying may be somewhat abrupt, I almost thought that it would be kind of intriguing to see what would happen if Ed Helms had to continue the quest alone. I went to see the film with my mother, she and I discussed the film in the car after we watched it. I brought this up, and she figured I was thinking Ed Helms would continue the quest in Wilson’s honor, which almost sounds more like an adventure flick as opposed to a comedy, but quests are basically adventures.

The final moments of the film had some emotion packed into it, and in ways, I felt it. But ultimately, I felt that the movie didn’t earn its emotional ending on a technical level. For one thing, it’s a comedy, not a drama. Another thing is that I didn’t really care about a single character in this movie enough to say, “I like you. I stand with you. I’m on your side.” If I was able to care about any of the characters or if I had a logical reason to appreciate them more, then I might as well say that the movie earned it’s ending, but the movie itself dragged, it was full of unbearable characters, and it just wasn’t funny. So I can’t really say the end played out very well.

Let’s move onto marketing. I noticed the difference in the film’s marketing from when I first heard about it and when the film actually came out. There wasn’t much buzz about “Bastards” before January 2017, but now that we’re here in December, the movie, technically now referred to as “Father Figures,” was brought back to my attention, and I had the realization this was the same movie. Now that it’s here, I’m seeing Christmas related ads having to do with the film and a poster with red & green font. If one of the reasons for the movie releasing at this time was just to market it like it’s an experience related to the holidays, it just feels cheap! Oh yeah, did I mention this film was supposed to come out in January? I should have known what I was getting into. January movies usually suck! Last year, “The Fifth Wave” made my top 10 WORST movies of the year list. In general, when a movie comes out in January, critics are going to give it hell. I wonder why they moved it. Is it to market the film in a certain way? Possibly. Although part of me is willing to bet it’s to get more people in the theater. Given that a lot of people have breaks from school and work, they have more time to see a movie. January only has weekends, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Another part of me thinks that Warner Brothers, AKA the distributor of the film, or one of the production companies such as Alcon or Montecito, thought this would be a good tactic in order to get people to go see another movie when “The Last Jedi” sells out. Given the competition and the film’s box office return, I wouldn’t say this was the best idea. Just compare this film with “Pitch Perfect 3,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” plus family friendly animations such as “Coco” and “Ferdinand” and you’ll see the point. If last year’s “Assassin’s Creed” has taught moviegoers anything, it’s that you only market something in a Christmas related fashion when appropriate. Speaking of competition and “Star Wars,” I should also bring up another possible reason why all of this is happening. “Star Wars” is something that the world cares about. There’s barely anyone in this world who doesn’t know what “Star Wars” is. However, nobody knows about “Father Figures,” and it’s possible that Warner Brothers thought, “Eh, “Star Wars” is coming out in December, and that’s inevitably gonna be a big hit. What’s a movie that people want to avoid?” And someone said “What about that lame-ass comedy with Owen Wilson and Ed Helms?” Everyone agreed with that thought, and here we are. I was one of the people who saw it. But you know what? I survived, and that’s what matters.

In the end I have to say “Father Figures” is a really intolerable experience. While “How to Be a Latin Lover” was awkward and unfunny, I have to say that “Father Figures” was not just awkward and unfunny, but also boring, not to mention insultingly baffling. That train scene split my head open. It just f*cked me over. I’d rather spend an entire year watching a sloth pop bubble wrap from start to finish than watch this film a second time. Guys, this has a good chance of being this year’s worst comedy and I’m going to give “Father Figures” a 1/10. I went to see this film with my mother, she says it was good, so I gotta say this film does have an audience, so I can say that’s a plus. My mother and I also saw “Snatched” together and we both agreed that was total dogs*it. So this film has at least one thing going for it I guess.

Thanks for reading this review. This Saturday I’m going to see “The Disaster Artist,” which I’m truly stoked for. I can’t wait to see it and talk about it, it’s likely gonna be a blast! Also, speaking of fun things I have going on here on Scene Before, I will also soon have my top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2017 lists. Meaning we can reflect on some of the milestones and trainwrecks I’ve sat through this year. I will have you know that depending on what happens, there’s a good chance that there’s at least one movie on either list that I saw and didn’t review, so if that ever comes up, that just means I didn’t have the time to sit down and write an analytical review of a certain film. Why? It’s the end of the year, and whenever time allows it, I’m trying to seek out as many of this year’s films as possible until I can no longer watch anymore. I’ve done this with “The Great Wall,” “American Assassin,” “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” “Crown Heights,” “Atomic Blonde,” and “The Only Living Boy in New York.” Anyway, stay tuned for more great content, including the recently mentioned review and countdowns! I want to know, if you saw “Father Figures,” what are your thoughts on it? What do you think is a better title for this film? “Father Figures” or “Bastards?” Also, what is the worst comedy of the year for you? Please leave a comment stating your responses to any of these questions, I’d be happy to look at them! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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