Released in cinemas 20th July 2012.
This charming indie comedy manages to straddle the dangerous lines of both vanity project and twee fluff, saving the day with witty dialogue and endearing performances.
Ryan O’Nan not only serves as star, writer and director, but composes and performs his own work as struggling musician Alex. Recently dumped by his girlfriend, Alex juggles a soul-destroying job in real estate with his special ‘gigs’. That would be performing in special schools and care homes dressed up as a giant pink moose. Alex doesn’t have much luck finding bandmates, so when he’s virtually kidnapped by his one appreciative fan Jim (Michael Weston), he’s manipulated into going on a completely ridiculous US tour as The Brooklyn Brothers.
Turns out the slightly bonkers Jim and his Fisher Price musical instruments (literally) have an affinity with Alex’s maudlin tunes about moths, and their first in-car jamming session sets the tone of a frequently funny and very sweet road trip. Weston’s Jim comes out with many a fantastical tale, some true, some not so true, which comes in handy when the pair have to bullshit their way into music venues. Alex’s journey of self-discovery is peppered with some fantastic scenarios, which distract from the flimsiness of the story. One particular highlight is a surreal gig at frat house Theta Beta Potato.
Coming along for the ride is sultry wannabe band manager Cassidy (Arielle Kebbel, doing well with an unsympathetic role), but the underwritten character serves as a distraction from the bromance, and Alex’s own recovery from heartbreak. What does work is Alex’s background, with a sojourn to his big brother and father figure Brian really bringing the story to life. Children of the ’80s will be delighted by the brilliant casting of Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy as Alex’s pious brother, mildly concerned that his own offspring has the eccentric, artistic family gene. Look out for Melissa Leo’s cameo as well.
So likeable is O’Nan’s Alex and the guitar welded to his side, he even makes the frequent impromptu songs tolerable, nay, enjoyable. He makes an excellent straight man to Weston’s manchild Jim, whose hysterically odd character is defined by a sweary old grandpa and a dog with an insatiable appetite for the male member. So far, so quirky, but O’Nan’s script feels remarkably fresh and is genuinely, absurdly amusing with some killer lines.
The twenty-something black sheep that can’t/won’t grow up is a well-worn path, but O’Nan makes Alex a heartfelt and very genuine case for his sensitive sad-sack. The songs hit the spot too - DIY readers familiar with The Research will be tickled pink by the plaintive plinky-plonk indie winning over crowds. Sometimes slight and silly, at times over-familiar and over-neat, Brooklyn Brothers is mostly smart, deceptively sharp and irresistible.