father figures

Fraternal twins Kyle, played by Owen Wilson, and Peter, played by Ed Helms, come to believe Terry Bradshaw is their father in the crass comedy, "Father Figures."

In a season filled with smart, creative films that will be on “best of” lists at the end of 2017, it’s sad to see junk like “Father Figures” thrown onto the big screen.

Not only isn’t it funny, but it also makes little sense. It’s an example of some of the laziest writing this year. Even Christopher Walken’s cameo role can’t save this junk.

The idea, such as it is, is that the mother (Glenn Close) of two grown twins has lied to them about their heritage. The man they thought was their father … well, isn’t.

The siblings are Peter (Ed Helms), a divorced proctologist (and yes, just in case you’re wondering, viewers who watch this will endure exactly the kinds of jokes you’d expect). Peter is a nice guy, but he’s stuffy compared to his flamboyant brother Kyle (Owen Wilson) who takes center stage at every gathering and with practically everyone he meets.

Kyle lives in Hawaii with his beautiful girlfriend. He’s a model, and has stumbled through his charmed life without having to work very hard.

The men learn at their mother’s wedding that they don’t know the identity of their father. She blurts out that he may be one of several men she knew in the 1970s, including retired NFL quarterback and sports analyst Terry Bradshaw.

Peter and Kyle, neither of whom seem to have much in the way of business commitments, take off to find their dad, whom they believe to be Bradshaw (playing himself). They show up at Bradshaw’s auto dealership in Miami, where they are warmly greeted by him, because he remembers their mother, uh, fondly.

It’s not a spoiler to say, while they are relaxing with Bradshaw, they meet his fellow NFL retiree friend (Ving Rhames), who also remembers their mother, uh, fondly.

But the two athletes determine that they know someone who could be, and probably was, their father, so the two go off in search of him (J. K. Simmons), who greets them not with a handshake, but with a weapon.

The “ick factor” is extremely high here. It’s disgusting to hear the father candidates discuss intimacy with the siblings’ mother over and over. But there’s more: In a scene of exquisitely bad taste, Wilson’s character actually urinates on a child. And that’s nothing compared to an unmentionable situation that you can dread coming for miles when Peter gets involved with a lovely stranger at a bar.

After all the vulgarity, the movie — a la Adam Sandler’s worst efforts — tries for a heartwarming finale which, not surprisingly, fizzles.

I have to give the movie one star for the scene in which Peter meets a woman at the bar. It’s sweet, it’s warm, and it gave me false hope that the rest of the film would be as engaging.

It’s not. Let another movie figure into your plans.


Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Broadcast Film Critics Association member. College instructor for criminal justice, English and math. Serves on Safer Foundation and The Salvation Army advisory boards. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church