Review: 'Half Brothers' is half baked comedy with minimal laughs
Courtesy of Focus Features
The buddy comedy is attempting to make a comeback in Luke Greenfield’s “Half Brothers,” where Luis Gerardo Méndez and Connor Del Rio play siblings out to complete their dad’s dying wish: a scavenger hunt retracing pop’s journey from Mexico into the United States. Reconnecting with old family friends and discovering themselves along the way, plenty of hijinks ensue including the theft of a sacrificial lamb (literally) and a scuffle with one racist biker gang.
Méndez plays Renato, a Mexican aviation tycoon and Asher (Del Rio) is the stereotypical “lazy American.” They couldn’t be more opposite (in true comedic fashion, the brothers meet by chance inside a coffee shop, and the situational and physical humor is dead on arrival). When their lineage is revealed, both men are in shock. On his deathbed, dad leaves a simple clue - “Eloise” - and forces the pair to go on a cross country odyssey to figure out what it means and understand where they came from.
At best, this is a watered down, PG-13 version of “The Hangover” meets “The Odd Couple” minus the laughs, but nobody will say Greenfield (director of “Let’s Be Cops”) doesn’t try to start a conversation. Messages about immigration, and jokes like “I was against the wall!” are populated in, but none of the emotional core lands because the chemistry between Méndez and Rio isn’t there.
Considering his background in sketch comedy, it’s surprising how flat Del Rio’s performance comes across and Méndez is fine playing the straight man, and even works up believable anger, but none of the crazy running gags and antics (again, I mention the lamb) never develop beyond a cheap, groan inducing punchline. “Half Brothers” ends up being a bilingual romp which squanders its two leads' comedic potential for half-baked messages that needed to be cooked a little longer.
HALF BROTHERS opens in select theaters Friday, December 4th before debuting on PVOD later this month.
COVID-19: Here at TheOnlyCritic.com, we’re committed to covering theatrical releases, but there’s still inherent risks in regards to going inside movie theaters. Please make sure you look up your local theaters COVID-19 guidelines and procedures before purchasing a ticket, and if you don’t feel comfortable going into a theater, please don’t. A positive review of an exclusive theatrical release is not an endorsement to put your health and safety at risk. In most cases, critics receive digital screeners or are invited to socially distanced press screenings, which defers heavily from what you might experience.