What do you get when you combine two very different cultures and opposite personalities? Half Brothers explores just that. The film follows Renato, a successful Mexican aviation executive, and his free-spirited American half-brother, Asher, as the two journey from Mexico to the United States, tracing the path their father took as an immigrant. Actor/producer Luis Gerado Mendez and director Luke Greenfield expressed how they wanted Half Brothers to trigger conversations about Mexican-American relations in an interview with CinemaBlend.
It took about three years to develop the script for Half Brothers. It’s a comedy with a familiar Odd Couple dynamic that also contains a lot of heart. Audiences are given the opportunity to explore these tensions along with the characters. The film contains a myriad of poignant comments related to culture and American ignorance, which turns out to be something that attracted both Luis Gerardo Mendez (who plays Asher) and director Luke Greenfield to the script. In Mendez’s words:
I’m also a producer of the film, so we were developing the script for like three years, and that was really important for us, you know? To create these two characters being vehicles to talk about differences between Mexico and the United States, and also talking about how, in a way, we are half-brothers. We are not that different from each other. So yeah, I had a couple of experiences hearing these horrible comments and you know like I really think comedy is tragedy plus time, so after a couple of years those comments became really funny in my mind. And we really want to talk about that to create a conversation about these issues in a funny way.
That makes sense, as humor is often used as a way of coping with tragedy. Many find that making light of something makes it more digestible, which can help open the conversation. The approach worked, too, because Half Brothers is not lacking in the laugh department. For those going in with misconceptions about one country or the other, there’s a lot to learn from this film, and as the filmmakers hoped, a lot to discuss after viewing.
Beyond triggering conversations, telling this story also provided an outlet for the cast and crew to play with the material and truly have fun with it. Director Luke Greenfield knew the conversations between the main characters would be explosive simply due to their differing backgrounds, and he used that momentum. Greenfield expanded upon the comedic element of Half Brothers, sharing his thought process behind directing this film. Here’s what he told CinemaBlend:
We worked on this script for a while and really tried to find, you know - in comedy I really like to go at things head on, I don’t like to shy away from things. And so to have this dichotomy of a wealthy successful Mexican businessman who hates Americans, and then you have this American guy who’s a little crazy and has no filter, and what they’re going to say to each other and how it’s going to be explosive from the beginning. We kind of go at the whole America/Mexico thing in many ways in this movie. We do have a lot of fun with it and we try to ride that line and then we go very dramatic with it and very tragic, and that’s why I made the movie. That was my goal in making the movie, it was, can I do two completely different tones in one movie? Can I shift quickly from crying to laughing and then back to crying again? Could it be done? And so that was the whole goal.