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Movie Review

Who's your daddy?

That phrase can mean different things to different people. But to twin brothers Peter and Kyle, it's a question of very real concern: Who is their daddy? For 40 years, they thought they knew.

They were given a creased picture and a sad story about a man's cancerous death to explain his absence in their lives. Hey, Peter even became a proctologist and spent much of his life peering into people's nether regions in an attempt to honor his lost father and to keep other families from suffering as his had.

But then he found out it was all a lie. Not a word of it was true! In fact, when pressed, Pete and Kyle's mother, Helen, stated that she wasn't really even sure who their father actually was.

How does that work?! Peter gasps.

"It was the crazy '70s" Helen explains. "Everyone was high and … monogamy wasn't exactly a priority." It seems there were quite a list of men who could have, well, fit that particular baby-making bill.

After trying to wipe that horrible mom-on-a-sexual-merry-go-round image out of his mind, Peter determines that it's time to track down the real DNA donor from their now-elderly mother's past. It's especially necessary since he's found out that his entire life has been based on a lie.

And Kyle? Well, he never gave his father much thought. But if brother Pete is going on this mission, he'll go, too. It'll be like a brother adventure. They'll travel. They'll hang out. They'll meet new people. And the fact that former football star Terry Bradshaw is right at the top of the potential paternity list makes the trip all the more exciting. What a story that could be, right?

Problem is, the men they meet have plenty of stories to tell themselves. They can't help but gush about lurid memories of the mythical Helen and her, uh, special skills.

Oh, brother. Now there's another phrase on Peter's mind: too much information. And they still don't have the information that sent them on this crazy quest to begin with.

Positive Elements

Peter and Kyle go on a cross-country journey, and some longstanding personal conflicts come to the fore—particularly Pete's angst about Kyle living a somewhat charmed life while he's living the empty existence of a divorced proctologist. But ultimately, the fighting bros come to see how valuable they've been to one another. And that's especially true because they had to work harder for each other to make up for the absence of a dad. "You have the kindest heart of anyone I know," Pete tells his brother.

The guys also eventually learn about the loving and personal sacrifices Helen made on their behalf. And in spite of all the shocking things the brothers uncover about their mom's sordid past, they grow closer as a family because of the trip.

[Spoiler Warning] Though it turns out Terry Bradshaw is not the brothers' father, he's initially ready to step up and accept Pete and Kyle as his sons.

Spiritual Content

Kyle presents the idea that he gets his "orders" in life from "the universe." (The brothers develop an app for that philosophy later on.) And both brothers praise and curse that nebulous god-like entity for all the good and bad things that happen to them during their journey. They even begin to believe that the universe has prompted people to lead them at certain key points along on their dad-seeking journey.

Sexual Content

Graphic stories about Helen's steamy, promiscuous past are detailed and cringe-worthy—particularly when some of the men glowingly gush about her specific sexual skills. The men also talk about Helen's body back when she was a young woman. Anatomical jokes about various sexual body parts—male and female—flow freely throughout the film.

Kyle admits he also lived a lustful lifestyle as a young man. We hear that he even had sex with one of Pete's high school girlfriends, which caused them to break up. And though he and his current girlfriend, Kaylani, have only been living together for six months, that constitutes a personal relationship best, time-wise, for Kyle.

Pete, on the other hand, states he's only ever had sex with his ex-wife. Kyle makes it a goal during their trip to help Pete "get laid." And eventually that sexual interaction takes place. We see Pete and a woman he meets in a bar start kissing and begin to remove each other's clothes (at a hotel). We also see contraception on a bedtable. (The guys later mistakenly believe this woman might actually be their half-sister.) Kyle has a late-night video chat with Kaylani, who's wearing skimpy lingerie.

After accidentally causing a woman to spill a drink, Kyle reflexively starts mopping the liquid off her chest. (She's wearing a sheer shirt, and the liquid makes her undergarments more visible.) Someone talks about being kicked out of a threesome when she was in college. The camera's eye lingers quite a while on a cat's enormous genitals.

Violent Content

While visiting one potential father figure's home, Pete and Kyle are surprised when a man walks up and holds a pistol to Pete's temple. Later, a guy who believes his car is being stolen shoots a shotgun in Pete and Kyle's general direction. Someone's accidentally hit by a car as well, and we later see him bandaged and bruised in the hospital.

Kyle runs to catch a tossed football and gets slammed to the ground when he's clotheslined by a large man. During a heated argument, Pete and Kyle punch each other. Then their car gets hit by a train, with both brothers barely escaping the crash. (Both are a bit bloodied afterward.)

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word leads the pack here with 55 uses, followed by the s-word and "a--hole" with 10 uses each. One or two uses each of "b--ch," "d--n" and "h---" join that group. God's and Jesus' names are both misused some 20 times (with God's name being combined with "d--n" about 10 times). Male and female genitalia are referenced repeatedly.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Helen and her new husband talk about all the marijuana they smoked and other drugs they consumed in the '70s. Pete, Kyle and other people drink beer, hard alcohol and champagne in various social settings. Kyle asks if his brother is on acid. A guy talks about being sent to jail for an illegal cocaine deal. Terry Bradshaw states that a former football player friend is "still on the juice." A guy gets shot with a tranquilizer dart.

Other Negative Elements

While Kyle's using a public restroom, a small boy walks up and starts urinating on Kyle's leg. Then the two begin spraying each other. During a dangerous situation, a black hitchhiker jokes, "My Negro spider-sense is tingling."

Conclusion

Father Figures is one of the most schizophrenic movies I've seen in a long time. And in this day and age of morally unmoored and randomly obscene comedies, that's saying something.

This film is a collection of cinematic contradictions that often don't fit well together: it's dreadfully crude, then lightly amusing; repugnantly profane, then suddenly endearing. It's the kind of pic that lingers to watch two family members earnestly express their heartfelt love for each other, right after it spends a far-too-long moment gawking at a cat's enormous testicles.

In the end, you might think of Father Figures as a tender tale with a tendency to vomit on your shoes.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Owen Wilson as Kyle; J.K. Simmons as Ronald Hunt; Christopher Walken as Dr. Tinkler; Ed Helms as Peter; Glenn Close as Helen; Ving Rhames as Rod Hamilton; Terry Bradshaw as himself: Jessica Gomes as Kaylani

Director

Lawrence Sher ( )

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

December 22, 2017

On Video

April 3, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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