Set for a December 22 big screen debut, the new comedy “Father Figures” looks like it will bring the laughs. The film features two big-time comedy stars – Owen Wilson and Ed Helms – in a hilarious quest to find their true dad. The only question is whether movie audiences will embrace some of the film’s raunchy humor right around the peak holiday season.
“Father Figures” has the look and feel of the popular “Hangover” movies
If you’re a big fan of the R-rated “Hangover” comedies, you’ll no doubt love “Father Figures.” That’s because the film marks the directorial debut of Lawrence Sher, the cinematographer behind the “Hangover” movies. And there’s also Ed Helms, who also starred in those “Hangover” movies. Only this time around, the action will take place in Miami Beach and not Las Vegas.
The plot line is relatively simple – two hapless twins (played by Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) find out from their sexy, promiscuous mother (played by Glenn Close) that the identity of their real birth father is unknown. So the two characters played by Wilson and Helms – Kyle and Peter Reynolds – set out on a “dad hunt” to find the real father. Along the way, they encounter a trio of older guys – played by J.K. Simmons, Terry Bradshaw and Christopher Walken – who could potentially be their dad. But which one is it?
That’s why the “Hangover”-style feel of the movie is so important – the film plays out as a madcap comedy, with plenty of raunchy comedy and physical sight gags. The backdrop for all these shenanigans, of course, is Miami Beach. The reason why the first “Hangover” movie was so irresistible was due to its location in Las Vegas. So it’s obvious why director Lawrence Sher decided to build on that experience and make the Miami Beach location central to the look and feel of this new film.
“Father Figures” is a hilarious buddy comedy
It’s hard to imagine Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as real-life twins, but that’s the basic premise of the movie. The two don’t appear to have anything in common other than the same father, which is part of what makes the movie so hilarious. “Father Figures” plays out as one of the madcap buddy comedies that Hollywood is so good at producing – combine two actors who are completely different, and watch all the comedic sparks that result.
“Father Figures” is the ultimate road comedy
Another popular Hollywood genre can best be described as a “road comedy” – two or more people hit the road, and all sorts of adventures ensue. There’s perhaps no better description for what happens in “Father Figures.” Once the two twins decide to hit the road, a lot of unbelievably funny events happen.
For example, there’s one scene where the two twins have found Christopher Walken, who they believe to be their dad. Walken decides to make a run for it, “We’ve got a runner,” shouts Owen Wilson, as he prepares to fire some kind of tranquilizer dart to slow him down. All of a sudden Walken falls face down on the ground, leading Ed Helms to blurt out, “You shot dad!”
“Father Figures” features a great supporting cast of funny would-be fathers
And then there are all kinds of hilarious scenes involving Terry Bradshaw (who plays himself as the legendary football player) and his football buddies. One of the ongoing jokes of the movie is that Glenn Close (the mother of the two twins) was once a promiscuous young woman who loved having sex, and got very involved with Terry Bradshaw. Every time Bradshaw and his buddies start to describe what a great lover Glenn Close was in her youth, the two twins blurt out, “She’s our mom.”
And it’s the same type of hilarious dialogue whenever Owen Wilson and Ed Helms stumble upon another person they believe to be their dad. For example, when they encounter J.K. Simmons and try to convince him that they might be their dad, Simmons leaves the scene. Then you hear something crashing to the ground and Simmons yelling to someone off-camera, “There’s no way those two jack***** are my kids!”
Glenn Close plays off-type to hilarious effect in “Father Figures”
Mention also has to be made of the legendary actress Glenn Close, who turns in a surprisingly funny role as a formerly promiscuous woman unsure of who the father might be. As she explains to a wide-eyed Owen Wilson and Ed Helms, “There was so much lovemaking back then… everyone was high.” To which Owen Wilson quips, “Now I know where I got my zest for lovemaking.”
And every single scene involving Terry Bradshaw is hilarious, because he’s also reminiscing back at the unbelievable lovemaking sessions he had with Glenn Close. And when his buddies join in, it’s even funnier. As the character played by Ving Rhames notes about the oral sex abilities of Glenn Close, “Her tongue almost cost us the Super Bowl that year…”
But is the “raunch factor” in “Father Figures” too much?
Perhaps the only thing that might derail this movie is what can best be called the “raunch factor.” Do people really want to see these types of raunchy, R-rated comedies around the holidays? You certainly can’t take your kids to see them, and they might even be somewhat awkward to watch with relatives. The “Hangover” movie was really a movie that you saw with your buddies and laughed about afterwards, right?
For example, the original title of this movie was supposed to be “Bastards,” and the first teasers that came out for the movie seemed to focus much more on the R-rated language and the raunch. That was still in September – so it’s obvious that the movie studio executives did a bunch of focus group testing and found out that it would be better to position this film as a madcap buddy comedy or funny quest movie than as just another “Hangover.” Releasing a holiday film with the name “Bastards” in it just wasn’t going to work, was it?
However, there’s just too much talent in this movie – Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, J.K. Simmons and Christopher Walken – for it to flop. That must be the hope of the film’s producers. “Father Figures” was originally scheduled for an early 2018 release, but they moved up the timetable to December 2017 to cash in on the lucrative year-end box office potential. They must know what movie audiences are going to find out very soon: “Father Figures” will bring the laughs.