Father Figures tries to straddle the line between dumb comedy and heartfelt family drama and manages to fail on both counts. Starring Ed Helms and Owen Wilson, the film never quite sells its jokes, then takes a weird turn into schmaltz about family and love, a difficult feat for even a good movie to pull off.
Ed Helms and Owen Wilson star as fraternal twins Peter and Kyle Reynolds. When they find out their mom (Glenn Close) has been lying about who their father is, they set out on an adventurous road trip to find him. Sadly, as many times as our leads point it out, it’s never believable that these two could be twins. Not only do they look nothing alike, their personalities are wildly different, playing up to stereotypes the actors are known for. Peter (Helms) is uptight and temperamental, disappointed in his life as a gastroenterologist, divorcee, and with a young son who hates him. Meanwhile, his brother Kyle (Wilson) lives in Hawaii with his beautiful girlfriend, living in luxury thanks to convenient royalties from being on the label of a barbecue sauce. Both actors play to type here, in what feels like lazy and unoriginal casting.
As they continue on this adventures to find their dad (“Operation Who’s Your Daddy”), the usual hijinks occur. Peter wants to get laid, hitchhikers are picked up, funerals are accidentally crashed. The comedy is perfectly fine and perfectly boring, with little in the way of surprises as Peter and Kyle cycle through their fatherly options. It could be Terry Bradshaw, playing himself, or it could be J.K. Simmons, playing a hotheaded repo man.
The strangest thing about Father Figures is it starts to morph half-way through into a weirdly emotional and genuine drama about two brothers learning to appreciate and love one another. However, just like the comedy, the schmaltzy final third feels entirely out of left field and, again, utterly predictable. Suddenly the film takes itself way too seriously, and all hope for this comedy feels lost.
Father Figures is a perfectly fine film, and all the actors play to their strengths in their performances. But it’s utterly predictable and ineffective at being both a comedy and a drama, destined to be a forgettable blip on IMDb pages for its cast and crew.