Starring: Ed Helms, Owen Wilson, Glenn Close
Director: Lawrence Sher
Running Time: 113 mins
Father Figures is an American film about two grown men who discover that their estranged father was not actually their father, and so they set out on a search across the country to find the real man.
As much as I love a silly Hollywood comedy filled with slapstick and celebrity cameos, Father Figures is an absolute nightmare. Almost never as funny as it thinks it is, the film is a painfully messy affair with mismatched performances and horribly misguided emotional depth that make it a really, really dull watch throughout.
There aren’t all too many positives to take from Father Figures, particularly given the wealth of talent (and money) behind its production. On the plus side, however, you can argue that it is the kind of braindead comedy that is fun to watch if you turn your brain all the way off, but even that is difficult to be convincing about.
For the most part, Father Figures tries to play itself off as a fun buddy comedy with a bit of adventure and road trip entertainment, but the fact of the matter is that the film is nowhere near as fun or light-hearted as it wants you to think it is, instead putting way too much emphasis on the emotions of characters that we really don’t care about.
In the lead roles, neither Ed Helms nor Owen Wilson are at their best. Wilson lacks his usual charisma in what is at most a secondary role, while Helms is a really dull lead through the whole movie, never funny nor likable enough to grab you throughout.
With two less than lovable leads, it’s fair to say that there’s not much to entice you into really enjoying this movie. The comedy could have been fun, silly and light-hearted to the point that you don’t really care about the characters and so just sit back and laugh, but that’s not the case.
The problem is that the film tries way too hard to tell a heartfelt story about two men searching for their dad. Emotion in Hollywood comedies can work really well – Instant Family is a great example – but Father Figures really misses the mark.
For the most part, that emotion is ruined by the fact that each of the men’s stops to meet someone who they think is their father is just a setup for a lazy cameo by an A-list actor.
I won’t spoil who the A-listers that appear are, but it’s generally an unsatisfying payoff after the film tries to build it up as the emotional height of the story. In short, it’s an example of how weak and generally lazy the writing and comedy is here.
So, Father Figures is a really disappointing film. Lacking the charisma of its two lead actors at their best, the film is neither a funny nor emotionally touching watch as it aims to be, rather proving a dull and frustrating watch from start to finish. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 5.5 overall.