The Brothers Solomon

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Grossness and sweetness seem to be the oddly winning combo animating many successful recent comedies, from "American Pie" to "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up." "The Brothers Solomon," the latest film to highlight performers from NBC's "Saturday Night Live," also melds raunchy humor and tenderness. But in this case, sweetness is really the dominant mood. Despite some crude sex jokes, the humor is a bit on the mild side.

Will Forte, an "SNL" veteran, wrote the script and also co-stars as Dean Solomon. Will Arnett, known for his role on Fox's "Arrested Development," plays older brother John. The siblings have been raised in the Arctic by a reclusive father (Lee Majors), but when Dad has a stroke that leaves him in a coma, the boys decide to honor his most fervent wish and make him a grandfather before he dies. Because they have no social skills, this will require a Herculean effort. But they blithely pursue potential mates and finally find a willing surrogate mother (fellow "SNL" performer Kristen Wiig).

The humor comes from the fact that the brothers have been raised in isolation, without any of the inhibitions that civilization imposes. When they consider adoption and see a photograph of a goofy kid on the adoption director's desk, they assume the kid is retarded and make politically incorrect comments, quite oblivious to the fact that he is the son of the man they are hoping to impress. And in their courtship of various women, their blunt, uncensored come-ons usually send the ladies running for the hills.

Eventually, however, they develop a rapport with the surrogate mother they have hired and her boyfriend (Chi McBride). The boyfriend is a choice character -- an angry, foul-mouthed janitor who also has a lachrymose, sentimental side. In fact, all of the main characters turn out to be rather endearing louts, and the film manages to have us rooting for them. Arnett and Forte have the easygoing rhythm of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in some of their outings. Like any number of comedies aimed at young males, this one is drenched in homoeroticism that will probably go right over the heads of its target audience. (No doubt someone already is preparing a scholarly dissertation on the latent homosexual underpinnings of so many blatantly heterosexual comedies.) Wiig, McBride and Malin Akerman -- as a neighbor who's initially contemptuous of the brothers -- all give very adept performances. The basic problem with the movie is that it's essentially an "SNL" skit stretched out to feature length. And Bob Odenkirk's direction, while perfectly functional, is something less than inspired. The movie doesn't have much visual style or atmosphere, but it does have a kinder, gentler spirit than many gross-out comedies, and that makes it a likable time killer.

THE BROTHERS SOLOMON
TriStar Pictures
Revolution Studios, Carsey-Werner Prods.
Credits:
Director: Bob Odenkirk
Screenwriter: Will Forte
Producers: Tom Werner, Matt Berenson
Executive producers: Caryn Mandabach, Paddy Cullen
Director of photography: Tim Suhrstedt
Production designer: John Paino
Music: John Swihart
Costume designer: Melina Root
Editor: Tracy Wadmore-Smith
Cast:
John Solomon: Will Arnett
Dean Solomon: Will Forte
James: Chi McBride
Janine: Kristen Wiig
Tara: Malin Akerman
Ed Solomon: Lee Majors
Running time -- 92 minutes
MPAA rating: R
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