Thursday, April 28, 2011

Talking Tribeca: Brother’s Justice

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from the Tribeca Film Festival. In no particular order, I present a look at one film per day. The Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 20th through May 1st.

Brother’s Justice
Directed by David Palmer & Dax Shepard
Released on VOD April 20, 2011

What if Dax Shepard decided he wanted to make a martial arts movie starring himself? Presumably, no one would care. It’s hard not to see echoes of “I’m Still Here,” the faux-documentary about Joaquin Phoenix’s transition from actor to deranged rapper, in this copycat production. The important difference is that Phoenix’s insanity was all part of a public stunt, and it wasn’t made clear until after the film’s release that it was in fact fiction. Shepard’s nutty behavior is entirely uncalled for and far less mesmerizing, and, unlike two-time Oscar nominee Phoenix, Shepard doesn’t have the same kind of goodwill to throw away, and as a result starts out poorly. Anyone could agree that Shepard’s idea for a movie, and his business plan, is awful, but a terrible idea does not a winning parody make. There isn’t a single laugh to be found in the entire film, and, as the film goes on, it seems like Shepard and his gang are trying entirely too hard to go for broke. The ensemble is a peculiar mix of random actors, most of whom play themselves, including Tom Arnold, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, David Koechner, and Michael Rosenbaum. It’s as if Shepard, in an effort to be as irreverent as possible, went around and found friends who might be willing to make fools of themselves for a good laugh. Nate Tuck, who plays Shepard’s best friend and foolhardy accomplice, is particularly abhorrent in a one-note role that, more than any of the other actors, seems heavily milked for the camera. When a snippet of Shepard’s film is finally seen, it’s clear that this entire embarrassment was just a waste of time, and an unproductive one at that.

See it or skip it? Unless you’re a Shepard fan, don’t see it.

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