Friday, September 9, 2016

Brother Nature: Movie Review

Fish-out-of-water, nature hijinks and familial dysfunction served up with some chaotic, rambling and unpleasant comedy.

It’s the classic fish-out-of-water story told as dysfunctional family hijinks comedy. Straight-laced and meticulous up-and-coming politician Roger (Taran Killam) is brought by his soon-to-be fiancée Gwen (Gillian Jacobs) to meet her free-spirited family at their lake house, including soon-to-be (not completely sane) brother-in-law Todd (Bobby Moynihan). But Brother Nature seemed to decide to tell this entire story on meth. Funny at times, but chaotic, rambling and mostly unpleasant. 2016

Directed by: Oz Rodriguez, Matt Villines

Screenplay by: Taran Killam, Mikey Day

Starring: Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan

This might be Taran Killam’s story, but it is Bobby Moynihan’s movie. Just like in Sisters, he shines in the off-the-wall moments. Making a character who is completely absurd funny. Todd is a bit hard to describe. He does crazy things all the time – from listening to casino sounds to fall asleep, to drawing himself on himself, to a whole host of nonsense ranging from hilarious to just stupid. But that’s also all there is to him – he has a little bit of heart at the end, but he’s neither interesting, nor sympathetic, not likable, or unlikable, he’s just crazy. And as funny as that can be, it also gets very tiring, very quickly.

It’s also the typical dysfunctional family ensemble – the dysfunction arriving from the clash of Roger and Todd. But the entire ensemble is very forgettable – with one notable exception (played by Kumail Nanjiani, who isn’t a family member) and all suffering from the same problems as Todd. They’re not particularly mean-spirited, but they’re also not interesting or likable. The one exception is Nanjiani who has most of the best lines (given Moynihan has most of the best hijinks). Riggleman is a loyal assistant to Roger, called in to save the day, and keep Todd away from Roger, right before Roger announces he’s running for congressman. But Riggleman starts liking Todd and doesn’t think he’s all bad, which does provide the film with a few cute moments.

Todd’s destructive ways aren’t all in Roger’s head, Todd really is that crazy. But there needed to be a better give-and-take to make either of the characters (preferably both) more compelling. There was just no end to Todd’s incessant problem-causing and no end to Roger’s incessant complaining. Which really causes Todd’s antics to be less funny and more annoying.

Brother Nature had a few laughs, and it efficiently ties in the romantic comedy elements to bring it to a more satisfying conclusion, but most of the time it was rambling, chaotic and unpleasant.