As I write this, The Brothers Solomon has a 15% rating with critics over at Rotten Tomatoes. Users (ie: average moviegoers), however, are scoring it at 75%. That's a pretty hefty margin, and so obviously people are finding something in Solomon that critics are missing. This sort of thing happens a lot throughout the year -- mostly with comedies -- and no one seems capable of placing a finger on exactly why critics and moviegoers are so far apart. Don't get me wrong, stupidity has a lot to do with it -- and The Brothers Solomon is a stupid movie. There's no questioning that. But is it funny? To a certain degree, yes, if you're a fan of movies like Dumb and Dumber and A Night at the Roxbury -- films that feature two moronic, yet seemingly happy-go-lucky characters who view the world from inside their own ultra-unrealistic bubble. And it's enough to keep you laughing for about twenty minutes, as that's about when the SNL-type shtick wears off and you're left holding (figuratively, not literally) onto Malin Akerman's ass in a wet bathing suit because it's the only part of the flick worth watching.
And I don't mean to be a perverted slime ball about it, but the scene in which Akerman struts out of a jacuzzi, half-naked, while Will Arnett crawls behind, licking her wet footsteps as the love song from Footloose (Almost Paradise for those keeping track) blares in the background is probably the most ridiculous -- and amusing -- of the entire film. Those moments are few and far between -- and they only work on those willing to lose themselves in the Solomon's alternate reality; a reality in which the outcome to every situation or dilemma is always positive, no matter how crummy it may seem on the surface. Take shit with a smile should be their motto, and perhaps there's a message there about how remaining in a constant positive state is the one true key to happiness. Then again, that's kind of creepy. And so are the Solomon brothers.
In real life, if you met John (Arnett) and Dean Solomon (Will Forte), you'd probably walk away thinking they were either suffering from some mental disorder or serial killers in training. You know that smile -- the one you get from a door-to-door salesman right when you meet for the first time. The kind that says, "I'm convinced what I'm selling is the greatest thing in the history of this planet, and I know you'll believe me because who, in their right mind, wouldn't." Well picture that smile for 91 minutes, and there's the set-up. The payoff is supposed to come when everyone around the Solomon brothers reacts to it. Problem is, they don't react like real people -- they react like characters playing off a script that needs to hit certain plot points pre-determined by so many comedies that have come before it. 1. It's stupid. 2. It's not original. Okay, I think I'm starting to see why critics and moviegoers are so far apart.
So, if that's the case, then what I'm saying is that your average moviegoer is looking for a stupid, unoriginal movie. I guess you could go there -- or, alternatively, you could say that the average moviegoer is looking to shut their brain off and watch something funny, yet familiar. The Brothers Solomon is in no way Dumb and Dumber, but sometimes when a movie reminds you of a better one, you're inclined to automatically receive good vibes. Sometimes. Critics, on the other hand, will often be reminded of a movie the one they watched didn't, but maybe could've lived up to. I wish I could say that I was caught somewhere in between the two, but The Brothers Solomon just didn't do a good enough job convincing me it was somewhat okay. The premise, in which the two boys promise their comatose father that they'll squeeze him out a grandchild -- and fulfill his last wish -- before he dies, only works when you adore John and Dean. I didn't. I despised them. Again, they were creepy.
And the characters they meet along the way, including a skeeved out Jenna Fischer, an eyes-half-shut Kristen Wiig, a funny-black-man-who-curses Chi McBride and a cardboard cutout of Malin Akerman, don't do anything except service these two door-to-door serial killers in training. It's a shame too, because with the exception of Akerman (who couldn't act her way out of a Diet Coke commercial), this script was a waste of talent. I'd love to blame director Bob Odenkirk (who hasn't done anything worthwhile since collaborating with David Cross), but Will Forte's script wreaks of "How high were you when you wrote this?" While Will Arnett might be one of only a few fantastic up-and-coming comedic character actors, the characters he takes on still need to be written by someone with more than half a brain cell. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way this time around. But if you pass me the bong, I might react differently.