Director Lawrence Sher
Cast Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, J.K. Simmons, Ryan Cartwright
Release Date December 22nd, 2017
The directorial debut for Lawrence Sher, Father Figures is an outrageous R-rated comedy about two adult brothers in search of their biological father after their mother admits to lying to them their entire lives. The film was originally entitled "Bastards" but changed the name for obvious reasons. The script is written by Justin Malen who previously penned the script for Office Christmas Party. The cast includes Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, J.K. Simmons, and Ryan Cartwright.
Thanks to a boring backstory and a crap script from screenwriter Justin Malen, Father Figures slides into the lonely land of disappointing R-rated comedies. When I first saw trailers for Father Figures I was admittedly intrigued. I am a huge fan of comedies and I figured at the very least an R-rated comedy releasing during Christmas weekend would provide an opportunity to have a few drinks and head over to the theater for some uncensored fun. Well first and foremost, Father Figures is one of the most censored R-rated films I have seen in quite some time. The movie more or less got slapped with an R-rating because of the one-liners that are sexual in nature but it really isn't that bad. Beyond that, they do literally NOTHING with the R-rating aside from a classic bait and switch for people hoping to see a movie more along the lines of Super Bad, Knocked Up, The Hangover, or Horrible Bosses (original or the sequel). Now granted, some of the films I just mentioned are top-tier comedies, but what they have in common is the fact that they deserved to have an R-rating and they wore it like a badge of honor.
The script for Father Figures felt like a PG-13 movie through and through, and either the studio got into a battle with the ratings commission and were forced to take on the R-rating, or on the flipside they may have welcomed it hoping they would bring in the audience that enjoys raunchy comedy (I certainly fall into that group). I also have my doubts about screenwriter Justin Malen, and I will absolutely proceed with caution for any scripts he writes in the future. He recently wrote Office Christmas Party which included a stellar cast but he somehow managed to make that a boring movie, although it was much, much better than this. He is currently working on scripts for Sherlock Holmes 3 and Bad Teacher 2, so hopefully he starts expanding that imagination of his between now and then. The bottom line is this, the funny parts are few and far between, leads Ed Helms and Owen Wilson seemed disinterested in their respective roles and I can't blame them, and from start to finish the movie really doesn’t amount to much. An R-rated comedy with no replay-value is a slap in the face to the genre, and this ladies and gentleman is one of those movies.
It's actually hard to breakdown the performances in Father Figures due to the overall lackadaisical demeanor of the cast as a whole. I really like Ed Helms and Owen Wilson and they have each turned up some fantastic performances of their own, but Father Figures is definitely a step back for the duo. Comedian Kat Williams, who not long ago was bashed pretty hard for getting his ass beat by a 17-year old (to be fair Williams is 5 foot 5 and 145 lbs on a good day and some 17-year olds are big as hell), delivered a funny performance in a very limited roll. I found myself waiting for the scene where he comes in and they could have snagged quite a few more laughs with some additional screen-time for the pint-sized comedian. I also really enjoyed Terry Bradshaw's character even though it wasn’t quite up there with how hilarious he was in Failure to Launch. One of the biggest travesties of this film is to only give my main man Christopher Walken about 5 minutes of screen-time- the guy is hilarious! Give Walken more lines and you might have something here, shame on you Justin Malen! Overall, a very lackluster performance by all involved weighed down by an unfunny script.
Father Figures isn't the worst movie of the year and it is definitely watchable, but it is a huge letdown when you put it in the category of hit R-rated comedies that have come out in the last decade. Even though the backstory is far from groundbreaking a superior script could have taken advantage of a solid cast and at least added enough laughs to keep the audience engaged. Instead, the movie has far too many slow points and what feels like meandering direction in terms of how the plot unfolds. With low expectations and a rental in the range of $1.50 Father Figures will serve as a decent watch, but I can't in good conscience recommend it beyond that.