PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –- Owen Wilson. Ed Helms. Christopher Walken. J.K. Simmons.
Cool comedy cast, no?
Pity, then, that Father Figures fizzles.
Originally titled Bastards, this 1970s-set, R-rated, high-concept parentage romp focuses on fraternal twin brothers Kyle and Peter Reynolds, played by Wilson and Helms, who discover that their eccentric mother, played by Glenn Close, lied to them all those years ago – and ever since — when she informed them that their father had died.
So they set out to track him down.
Which is not so easy, given their mom’s romantic involvement with more than her share of the rich, the famous, and the powerful.
Walken and Simmons play possible fathers, as does football icon Terry Bradshaw, playing a version of himself, and an ex-teammate of his, played by Ving Rhames.
The film marks the directorial debut of veteran cinematographer Lawrence Sher, who shot the three Hangover flicks (featuring Helms), working from a screenplay by Justin Malen, who wrote last year’s Office Christmas Party.
But if this flick proves anything, it’s that shooting comedies is not the same as directing one, as Father Figures makes perfectly clear. As comedies go, the film looks fine. But pacing, timing and earning laughs are three different stories.
Helms comes close to painting a vivid and accomplished portrait of an unhappy, frustrated proctologist, but Sher doesn’t get much out of the rest of his cast. Wilson coasts on signature charm, Close is pretty much wasted, and what the director does with and asks from Walken is downright insulting.
Net result: despite the occasional earned chuckle, this is one phoned-in fandango. No one needs a blooper reel at the tail end of a movie that so often resembles one.
So we’ll track down 2 stars out of 4 for Father Figures. If only it had as many laughs as it does potential pops.