Walking into a movie starring two current cast members of “Saturday Night Live” about socially awkward idiots is always a dicey proposition. Visions of Night at the Roxbury or other painfully unfunny SNL generated films may drop your expectations for The Brothers Solomon. That’s fine. Your low expectations will be easily met and this not-great but good enough comedy will generate some laughs with its lame-brained central characters.
SNL mainstay Will Forte, who also wrote the script, stars with Will Arnett as Dean and John Solomon (flip around the order of their first names and say them quick and you might start humming “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena”), two brothers and roommates in their 30’s. Although unfailingly friendly and optimistic, they suffered from a home school education in the Arctic at the hands of their father (Lee Majors.) In most human contact, but especially in their attempted relationships with women, the brothers are borderline retarded. Dean starts a blind date by kissing the woman’s father on the lips; John pays for women’s groceries and can’t figure why that comes across as creepy.
After their beloved father falls into a coma, the brothers decide that making a baby will help bring him out. Because traditional dating doesn’t seem to be working (John proposes to “The Office’s” Jenna Fischer about ten minutes into their first date), they post a Craigslist ad looking for someone to make a baby. The ad is quickly answered by Janine (SNLer Kristen Wiig) who is looking for $12,000 to do the deed. Her on-again off-again foul mouthed boyfriend (Chi McBride) is not sure about this, but things move forward.
Comparisons to Dumb and Dumber and other Farrelly Brothers comedies are inevitable. Idiots, mentally or socially, have been their bread and butter for years, so The Brothers Solomon treads on much the same ground that we’ve seen in the past when dumb or clueless guys try to interact with actual society. The plot, performances, and script don’t break any ground, but they do have enough of what this type of movie desperately needs: laughs. This thing has the laugh out loud lines and situations needed to make you forget that the plot isn’t particularly unique or that Jim Carrey has played most of these characters two or three times.
This isn’t high brow humor or even a picture that takes a look at the low brow stuff with a nod and a wink. It just takes the genre and wrings every last laugh out of two guys trying to learn how to care for a baby by dropping a doll off a seventh floor landing or trying to lure children into their car at the playground with promises of ice cream. Arnett and Forte do everything they can to make the most of what Forte the writer has given them and their good humor and natural, well, niceness carry things a long way. Arnett’s inability to be hurt or offended by neighboring hottie Malin Akerman endears us to him even though he sometimes comes across as an insane stalker.
Other than Forte and Wiig (who is pretty much the straight woman here), there aren’t any other SNL faces on the screen. I was worried Will Ferrell would show up for two minutes as a long lost cousin who’s even more lame brained than the other two Wills. Fortunately, there are almost none of those distracting cameos. In fact, other than Fischer’s brief scene, the only cameo is director Bob Odenkirk, late of “Mr. Show” and other comic genius bits. As a director, Odenkirk doesn’t exactly have a deft touch in either staging or comic timing, but he adequately puts everyone through the paces as the zingers continue to flow from Forte, Arnett, and McBride’s mouths. The pace only really drops off in the last quarter, which drags the whole movie down a little. Forte set up a reconciliation scene using sky-banners that continues to prove that after North by Northwest single engine planes should have been retired from movies forever.
Aside from a sluggish ending, The Brothers Solomon does credit to the stupid-humor genre it slavishly emulates. Again, you aren’t going to get anything new and many of the bits and set-ups don’t work quite as well as the participants intended , but there is enough enjoyable material to make it worth your while. Funny actors saying funny things still counts for something and this movie certainly has more than its share of those.