out of Five
Running time: 97
Hugely enjoyable indie road comedy-slash-musical with a witty script, engaging performances and a superb soundtrack.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Ryan O'Nan, The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best stars O'Nan as Alex, a depressed New York singer-songwriter who loses his girlfriend, his day job (as a real estate agent), his part-time job (dressing as a moose and singing in a school to children) and his latest musical partner in the space of twenty four hours. Still dressed as a moose, Alex is approached by a total stranger - seemingly unstable fellow musician Jim (Michael Weston) - who asks him to form a two-man band with him and embark on a pre-booked tour, since he has also just been fired from his own band.
Feeling pressure from friends, family and ex co-workers to give up his dreams of becoming a musician, Alex impulsively takes Jim up on his offer and the pair begin their tour, with their final destination set to be a Battle of the Bands in L.A. Along the way, they're joined by Cassidy (Arielle Kebbel), who aggressively signs on as their manager after she sees them play.
Ryan O'Nan is excellent as Alex, for the most part playing the role with a likeable hangdog expression, but occasionally allowing a winning smile to shine through; he also has great chemistry with each of his co-stars, but particularly with young Jake Miller, who plays his young nephew in a later scene. Kebbel and Weston are equally good and there's a superb turn from Andrew McCarthy (yes, THAT Andrew McCarthy, who weirdly only seems to have aged about five years) as Alex's religious brother Brian.
The tone falters a little in the early stages (Jim is too crazy too early) but quickly settles down and there's an enjoyable Flight of the Conchords-style vibe to the film, albeit without the comedy songs; essentially, the film is a little like Flight of the Conchords meets Once. The soundtrack is superb too, with the majority of the songs (many of them written by O'Nan) played in full during the gig scenes.
The dialogue is sharply written, with the script nailing its important meaningful speech moments in a way that feels natural. There are also several amusing off-the-wall bits (like the Theta Beta Potata frat house gig) and O'Nan includes some genuinely moving scenes, like a delightful sequence where Alex helps his nephew write a song.
The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best is a hugely enjoyable, well written and superbly acted indie road comedy that marks writer-director-actor Ryan O'Nan out as a talent to watch. Recommended.
The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (R15)