Half Brothers (2020): Jack Gives His Brotherly Hate

“Half Brothers” is directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door, Let’s Be Cops) and stars Luis Gerardo Méndez and Connor Del Rio in a film where an aviation exec named Renato comes to find out he has an American half-brother named Asher. The two are forced on a road trip together from the United States to Mexico to learn more about their father as that just so happens to be his dying wish.

“Half Brothers” is amongst the group of films that studios just so have the balls to release in theaters during the pandemic. As far as new releases go, this is not the worst possible candidate for today’s times. The film is not that expensive to make, it is marketable, and to Focus Features’ advantage, they are owned by Comcast, which owns Universal. What I mean by that is Universal made an agreement specifically with the AMC theatre chain that’ll allow them to make their films accessible for home viewing after a minimum of 17 days. So this film will be available to watch at home soon through various premium VOD options. However, since I attended an advance virtual screening for the film, I got to watch “Half Brothers” a few days prior to release. Oddly, I decided to wait over a week after it came out to talk about it, but I have school and duty calls.

This movie starts off nicely. The film begins introducing this father son dynamic that sort of ties much of the journey together. I thought it was well done and sort of reminded me of the relationship I have with my own father, even though we never flown planes together. That was a genuinely fun to watch moment.

Now if only the rest of the film were as compelling, enjoyable, and not even the least bit annoying.

This movie stars Luis Gerardo Méndez and Connor Del Rio as our half-brother pair, and they make up for some of the most awkward and anger-inducing moments I have seen in a road trip movie. Remember “Thelma & Louise” and their great chemistry while blazing down concrete? Yeah, you’re not getting that here. Instead you get a Mexican smartass and an American dumbbell who don’t like each other, they have no chemistry, they feel almost randomly placed together (because well, they kinda sorta are), and they offer little to no entertainment value whatsoever. And sure, I guess both people happen to be expressive, but if I were placed on this trip as the third wheel, I would want to slit my throat in front of this duo. I’m getting off this ride! I’m nauseous! I’m angry! I’m mad! I’m irritated! I’m gonna throw up! No other offers are hopefully up on the table! And for those reasons, I’m out!

Sorry, this movie is so bad that I just want to think about “Shark Tank.” Sounds so much better.

Let’s talk about Renato. From scene one, I was somewhat connected by his story. But from scene two, three, four, whatever, I became increasingly disinterested. Now I know that it is traditional in a story for a protagonist to have something he or she wants, and maybe something holds them back, and maybe that is revealed emotionally. In “Half Brothers,” this stands true for Renato, but almost anytime he happens to be vocally against something, he makes it noticeable, maybe a little too much. He never feels upbeat, never excited, rarely calm. Now if our main characters eternally remained silent and calm, they might be boring, but in the case of “Half Brothers,” Renato is just agonizing to watch because he never feels happy. My early impressions managed to carry through to the point where I never really cared about him.

As for his Renato’s partner through the film, Asher, he is not much better. Oh my gosh, this guy even looks like an utter goofball. I mean, wow! I get that this is a comedy, therefore there will be some moments that are either out of this world or impractical, and over the years, I have come to accept that. I am not going to pretend that such a thing goes right all the time, but this is where I have to calmly step in, be rational, and DECLARE THAT THIS MOVIE IS KILLING MY BRAIN! One of the things that quickly got on my nerve as soon as it started was the massive stereotyping these characters happened to face. For Renato, he entered the United States, and as soon as he is picked up at the airport, he is greeted by a lady who emphasizes her English for the guy, even though he can clearly speak the language. She even throws in the notion of “not wanting to be in Mexico.” …Cause ya know… Bad things… Happen there.

Merica’.

Now what does this have to do with Asher? Because he too, despite being a white U.S. citizen, which in many people’s eyes would equate to guaranteed privilege, is not vulnerable to stereotypes, pretty much all of which are outspoken by Renato himself. As the writer of this post, I recognize the privilege that I have. I’m white, a male, straight, and I come from a U.S. state that has a good reputation in regards to higher education. We have Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Boston University, and so on. I am not going to deny what I have. But when it comes to how this movie handles the way Renato sees the typical white man of the United States, I could not help but roll my eyes. Here’s the thing about the way other countries see the United States. They see us as fat and stupid. And to some extent, they are not wrong. I am not a hunk, and I cannot speak a foreign language. I’ve tried learning a few over the years, but nothing stuck. Asher does not really embody that vision with his weight, but he sort of does with his personality and arguably his IQ. Look, there’s stupid, there’s being nowhere near as smart as a fifth grader, there’s Patrick Star, but Asher occasionally feels too dumb for words.

Now my griveances of the film could be forgiven if it was funny, but it is not! Sometimes it just feels incredibly frustrating! Maybe I had a few laughs every once in a while, but for the most part, this was nearly resemblant of a blood pressure examination. I did not watch this film in the theater, so I do not know how good or bad it is in a theatrical environment, but if you choose to go to the theater, I would say to go watch something else. Go watch “Freaky!” It’s scary, it’s violent, but most importantly, it’s FUNNY. Watch it!

In the end, “Half Brothers” is certainly not even halfway to being perfect. If you are looking for something to watch in order to escape the horrors of 2020, skip this movie. There are plenty of other options out there. There are better buddy movies, better road trip movies, and this film overall made me dumber. I almost do not even know how to conclude this review other than saying that this movie can go jump off a cliff. The guy who directed this film, Luke Greenfield, directed two episodes of the ABC sitcom “The Neighbors,” which I wish got more than a couple seasons, therefore I have some respect for him. Sadly, I wish that respect could have also been given to him here. I am going to give “Half Brothers” a 3/10. This is not the worst comedy of the year for me, but it is one that I highly recommend you avoid for your sanity. Do not watch this movie. Again, “Freaky” is out in theaters and at home. Go support it!

“Half Brothers” is in theaters now and will be available on premium VOD soon.

Thanks for reading this review! I have plenty more content coming including my review for the all new Netflix film “Mank,” directed by David Fincher. I will have my thoughts on that very soon, and stay tuned for my reviews on “The Midnight Sky” and “Greenland.” I’ll have my thoughts on all those movies hopefully by the end of next week. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Half Brothers?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your worst comedy of the year so far? For me, that would have to be “Superintelligence.” It’s exclusively on HBO Max, which… Yeah, it feels like it was literally dumped on there. Leave your thoughts and opinions down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

New Animated Super Mario Bros. Movie in the Works and Why I Have Mixed Thoughts On It

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! A couple weeks back, I found out that Illumination Entertainment is working on a new “Super Mario Bros.” movie and there was a part of me that thought that was cool. Another part of me however, was trying to set my body on fire. Part of me wanted to make a “Mario” movie at an older age, but that’s not the main reason I’m worried.

Let’s remain rather positive for now and talk about what I think might as well be considered “the good.” The best thing about this new “Mario” project is that it might turn out fine. I know, this sounds VERY LIMITED, but you have to realize the history moviegoers have with video game movies and how much of a tragedy it has been in said genre for the most part. Sure, there are a number of people who say they enjoyed movies such as “Mortal Kombat,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” and even “Warcraft.” I’m willing to bet that last one may be due to its faithfulness towards the game, but people enjoyed it nonetheless. As for “Super Mario Bros.,” if you weren’t aware already, there already has been two movies based on the games. Yes, two. If you know about only one of them or even none for that matter, I wouldn’t be that surprised considering the earlier one only released in Japan in 1986 and it was called “Super Mario Brothers: Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach.” The American version, released in 1993, known as “Super Mario Bros.,” was met with negative reception once it came out and is still remembered as an abomination. As for my reaction towards the film, I completely concur with the enormous number of people who were enslaved by a couple of plumbers for over an hour and a half. I even consider that garbage pile of a film to be my least favorite film of all time. I didn’t know it when watching it in 2013, but as time marched on, I began to realize, the complete and utter bullcrap shoved in front of me. I saw news of this film happening and I thought, filmmakers can only go up from here.

The 1993 s*itshow known as “Super Mario Bros.” was made in live-action, and while I have not much of a problem with a “Mario” movie being in live-action, “Mario’s” universe comes off as this magical place that would make as much sense as defying gravity. This brings in some news that the new “Mario” movie will be in animation form as opposed to live-action. Given what I just stated about logic and “Mario,” I’m not opposed to this. In fact, based on results I saw from IMDb, the Japanese “Mario” movie from 1986 was actually an anime and that got mostly positive verdicts, giving it a barely passable rating. I’ll remind you though, not many people rated the film. I’ll also remind you that this barely passable rating of 6.0 is greater than the failure of a rating that the American “Mario” film has, which is a 4.0. Most of the verdicts for the Japanese film came in around the 6 and 7 spots and the American flick has ratings mostly ending up as a 4. Try playing one of the newer “Super Mario” games. Try playing “Super Mario Galaxy” or “Super Mario 3D World” and tell me the textures in those games won’t work well in an animated movie. Or at the very least, a live-action movie with tons of CGI.

Now with the news I just stated, some of you “Mario” fans might be thinking, this might turn out well. Let me just remind you that one studio stands in the way of this movie’s ultimate fate. And that studio, as mentioned, is Illumination Entertainment, or as I like to call them, Making Minion Cash-Ins Forever Entertainment.

I’ve seen a few pieces of Illumination’s work, and while I will say, they are well animated, they can’t even compete with works from other animated studios. I give a lot of flak for Disney making repetitive content based on some works they’ve done in recent years along with works that will be out in years to come, but at least they’ve done glimmers of brilliance in the animation department recently! Have you seen “Wreck-it Ralph?” If you haven’t, go out and buy it right now on Blu-ray if you don’t have it! Have you seen “Zootopia?” If you haven’t, stop wasting time and find a copy! Don’t get me wrong, I do think they’ve done terribly overrated pieces of dogs*it in the animation department in recent times as well. If you like “Frozen,” that’s fine, but I’m glad that I’m not a father, because if I was, I probably would have been dragged by the ear to that film if I had a daughter instantly. I haven’t watched the film in its entirety, but based on what I’ve seen, I don’t want to. Speaking of that, I haven’t seen all of “Moana,” but I’ve seen enough to say, despite the stellar animation, I can’t say I can get past an annoying chicken and brain damaging musical numbers. As for Illumination, I’ve seen a portion of “Despicable Me 2,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” and “Sing.” The portion I saw of “Despicable Me 2” didn’t please me, and as for the other two films, they were passable, but not that memorable. To me, Illumination is just that animated studio that tries to make serviceable content that could potentially entertain kids, and maybe some adults, but mainly kids. Yes, kids are a target demographic in animations, but to say that the animations are just for the kids is baloney. Think about what adults want, mature stories with proper life lessons, something that the kids can think about in order to be a good person. And while I have seen films from Illumination that showcase those things, it must be kept in mind that those are probably films that are only good for one watch. I know a friend who reads this blog who has watched “Despicable Me 3” and she says its awesome, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t make any judgment of it whatsoever.

The more I think about it, the more I want this to be perhaps a Dreamworks movie, maybe a Blue Sky movie even. Both of those studios have created GREAT animations I have watched over and over again. “Kung Fu Panda” is one of my favorite animations of all time. Not just the first one, but all three to me, qualify as animated tour de forces. Blue Sky’s first two “Ice Age” films are terrific in my personal book. Yeah, the franchise has declined to a point of utter insanity at this point, but it doesn’t mean Blue Sky hasn’t made other enjoyable pieces of work such as “Epic.”

I mean, the more I think about those things, the more worried I get because those studios have been around for awhile. Sure, they’ve both had their share of original and unoriginal ideas that have been effective films, there are points where people run out of ideas and thus start creating whatever cash-in is necessary. Have you guys seen “Ice Age: Collision Course?” If you haven’t, LUCKY YOU! If anything, this Mario movie can only work if people tried to make an effective product. By that I mean, instead of thinking of it as something based off of something that people like that you have to make, think of it as something that has been loved by many for years, and go on to create something those people will either love equally or perhaps more than the original product. Given their track record, I wouldn’t mind seeing Laika taking on this project. I saw two Laika films and both of them were absolute pieces of genius! I still remember going to see “Coraline” in the theater, and the animation not only looked amazing, but it was well written, well voiced, and it had a terrific story. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is another film I saw from Laika, and that somehow managed to be better than “Coraline!” Laika is well known for its stop-motion work, so it would be rather interesting to see what they can do with “Mario.” Although this might bring some problems given the traditional design of “Mario’s” world. If gravity could be defied, this might work 100%.

Sticking with Illumination, I’m also worried about one other thing, marketing and handling of the product. Are they gonna use an unoriginal character or create some new character that might as well be an excuse to stock toy shelves? That’s basically what they did with the Minions in “Despicable Me,” so that wouldn’t be surprising here. This also makes me think if they will just make “Mario” less like “Mario” and more like a cliche animation. If they don’t take time to actually have Mario do several missions like he does in the games, I will rage. “Mario” is famous for its missions where you either have to touch a flag or collect a star. If they don’t pay much respect to the game in that regard, perhaps numerous times, I might be disappointed. I don’t want the characters taking too many breaks to sit around and have a conversation. I don’t mind conversations being in there, but they can’t be in there the entire time. Also, PLEASE, don’t make the missions have a popular song with lyrics, and don’t do another version of “Happy.” Either take the music from the games or establish your own score and keep it that way. You can make the movie feel like a movie, but also blend in a high number of elements from the video game, I imagine some people will go nuts.

At this point, I’m just rambling. I wouldn’t doubt that this would be a step up from “Super Mario Bros.” released in 1993, but the question is, how much of a step up can it be? Video game movies in general are not that great, but if this were under a different studio such as DreamWorks or an independent studio, I’d have more faith in it. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to face that boss when we get to it.

Thanks for reading this post! This weekend, “Black Panther” is out, meaning I’ll definitely have a review up sometime soon because I do have intentions to see it. You know, unlike “Fifty Shades Freed.” I probably won’t be seeing that unless I manage to find a date in a matter of days and they end up dragging me to it. As for other movies, I want to go see “Game Night,” a comedy starring Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemons, and Jason Bateman. That movie comes out February 23rd, so maybe I’ll catch that a little later. Speaking of films coming out that day, I’m also going to try and catch “Annihilation,” which is directed by Alex Garland and that name alone is enough to get me in the theater because he directed “Ex Machina,” and that movie is, well, “Ex Machina.” Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have any thoughts on the upcoming “Mario” movie? Also, did you see “Super Mario Bros.” from 1993? If you haven’t, chances are you haven’t been locked in the closet for a period of time by a couple plumbers. Let me know your responses! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!