Brothers John and Dean Solomon want a baby.
Not for themselves, mind you. It's more a gift—a present for their critically ill father who, before he slipped into a coma, said he wished he could've lived to see his grandchildren. John and Dean figure that, if they work on providing their beloved pops a pint-size progeny, it might encourage him to cling to life a little longer.
"Make a baby for dad on three!" John shouts, and John and Dean do a little football cheer across their father's hospital bed.
Alas, John and Dean—woefully inept at almost everything—struggle mightily in the dating scene. John tries to pick up women in grocery stores by picking up their tabs. Dean thinks that kissing his dates' fathers is the ultimate sign of respect. So to speed matters along, they take out an ad on craigslist, asking for a woman willing to carry their seed to term.
Janine answers the ad.
She's as tolerant of John and Dean's oddities as anyone could be. Maybe that's because she's hit a rocky patch with her boyfriend, James—a huge African-American man who weeps and swears with equal fervor and takes almost everything as a racial slight—and she needs the $12,000 the brothers are paying her.
It's made clear that widower Ed Solomon did the best he could (in an eccentric sort of way) raising his boys. He moved the family to the Arctic Circle when one son said he wanted to live where Santa Claus lived. He homeschooled them. He taught them character, perseverance and optimism. Half of Ed's dialogue consists of him telling the brothers how proud he is of them.
For the brothers, Dad is the ultimate teacher and role model. They have a plaque in their apartment that quotes him saying "Never quit." And they care deeply for each other, too. John teaches Dean everything he thinks he knows. Dean accepts the lessons with heartfelt gratitude. They pal around with the affectionate obnoxiousness rarely seen outside a 5th-grade playground.
The Brothers Solomon stresses what a precious thing children are, and how special being a parent can be. Janine becomes very attached to the baby as the pregnancy wears on—an attachment the brothers inadvertently increase when they give her a framed ultrasound picture. She's also one of the only people the brothers know who can see past their oddities and appreciate their deep-down goodness (such as it is; more on that later). But she also doesn't want to leave her baby in the wrong hands.
"If I don't think the two of you can handle this, you will never lay eyes on this child," she says.
To prove themselves worthy, the brothers enroll themselves in a self-taught daddy training regimen: They drop dolls from balconies and try to catch them; they baby-proof their apartment by securing every door, drawer and appliance with chains and combination locks; and they practice changing dolls' diapers.
A passing reference is made to a child the brothers think is disabled being "God's special little clown."
Despite their social ineptitude (or more likely, because of it) the would-be sexual exploits of John and Dean form the backbone of the film. Here's what it looks like: John says, in so many words, that their quest for sex will be more successful because they're doing it now "for Dad," and will therefore be more motivated. Dean tells a date that he likes the fact that she's fat, because it will augment sex. And John asks a date if she's ovulating.
John and Dean crudely tell Janine that their plan is to make love to her multiple times "until one of our seeds sticks." When Janine tells them the only thing they'll be getting intimate with is a paper cup at a sperm bank, both are very disappointed. James' aversion to the word "sperm" prompts the brothers to have a stilted yet explicit conversation about what's going to happen at the sperm bank.
Masturbation gags (verbal and visual) crowd the screen during the sperm bank sequence, which includes John and Dean being given a large selection of pornographic magazines. (We're forced to see some of the images.) Anal sex and sexual asphyxiation are also joked about.
John has a dream of sitting in a hot tub with a beautiful neighbor dressed in the skimpiest of string bikinis. When the girl gets out of the tub, John literally laps up the watery footprints she leaves behind. Naked, he climbs out of the shower and hugs Dean. (They're seen from the waist up.)
When John and Dean go into an adoption clinic, the counselor asks them if they are "married, or just a long-term couple."
John hits Dean in the nose with a dart, and the two briefly argue as the dart dangles from Dean's face. One of Dean's dates gets hit by a bus. The guys accidentally crash into various things with their car. Glass bottles and chairs are thrown.
Crude or Profane Language
Characters rattle off the f-word about 25 times. It is, in fact, the second word spoken by the newest little Solomon. "Babies are like little sponges," James solemnly intones. The s-word comes up a dozen times. God's name is misused at least 20 times; Jesus' once. Other swear words include "a--," "d--n" and "b--ch." Virulently crude words for sexual anatomy and sexual acts are tossed around casually.
Drug and Alcohol Content
John and Dean toast Janine's pregnancy with bottles of beer, and John augments his with a shot of whiskey. They encourage Janine to join the party, but she refuses. John downs champagne in his apartment building's hallway.
Other Negative Elements
The brothers' dedication to their dad sometimes manifests itself in less-than-positive ways. For instance, they opt to care for him in their apartment, filling it with mysterious machines that beep and whir—machines they don't really know how to read or use. John bought most of the medical equipment on sale and acknowledges that it might hiccup now and then. "Flaws equals savings!" he says.
John and Dean don't restrict their parenting practice to dolls. They also experiment on children they see playing in a park. And a mother has to intervene when they invite a little girl into their car with an offer of ice cream. At that same park, John comments on the size of an obese boy's breasts. Dean kisses a date's father flush on the mouth. When he draws away, a trail of saliva follows.
Imagine a Saturday Night Live sketch gone horribly, horribly wrong—and long. If you make the mistake of seeing The Brothers Solomon, you won't have to. The few jokes that connect don't know when to let go. The rest die before they're delivered. Characters are inconsistent. And the plot isn't much more than somebody asking a couple of kooky, not-from-around-here guys to jump from scene to embarrassing scene.
Director Bob Odenkirk (who is also responsible for the lazy and mean-spirited Let's Go To Prison) manages to touch on—but never really conveys—what it means to be a father, a son, a mother, a child. And, while he snickers at what he thinks positivism and naiveté look like, he never slams them completely. "Sure," his movie wants to say, "the brothers are a little odd, but that's only because they grew up completely alone. Deep down, they're good people."
But are they really?
These guys aren't just sheltered and therefore stymied; they're intentionally brainless. And if actions speak louder than words (they do) the Solomon brothers aren't really "good," either. They cuss. They stalk women. They cruise for sex. John and Dean aren't so much innocent and misunderstood as they are in need of being grounded—permanently.