Once you get past the first dad visit, “Father Figures” drifts.
A not-so-sly twist on “Mamma Mia” (without the music), “Figures” finds Owen Wilson and Ed Helms looking for their birth father. Because mom (Glenn Close, no less) doesn’t provide clues, they’ve got to connect dots, going on a road trip to visit Terry Bradshaw, J.K. Simmons and Christopher Walken before learning the truth.
They pick up a hitchhiker, too, and have a couple of close calls that get them to realize what matters most.
Although Helms and Wilson are known for comic turns, this one doesn’t have all that many laughs. It also doesn’t teach any great truths about family but it does run fairly long for a disposable movie.
Directed by Lawrence Sher, a veteran cinematographer, “Figures” gives both Helms and Wilson additional woes. The former is dissatisfied with his life as a physician; the latter has just learned his gravy train has come to a halt. To complicate matters, they’ve both got relationship woes.
The road trip is just a way to stall the inevitable. Why they don’t do all of this online or by phone is anyone’s guess. The two go on their journey and frequently react to little more than a hunch.
Bradshaw (who’s the first suspect) is the most fun. He’s game for two new sons but isn’t afraid to detail his randy past. He has stories about Close, too, and a car dealership that lets him drive some sweet cars. A twist, however, puts the brothers on the road to Simmons, who’s supposed to be a financial guru. Instead, he’s a sketchy dad who takes more than he gives. He gets them back on the road and into so many random situations you’d like to stop the journey before it gets to the next motel.
There’s a fun encounter with Katt Williams as a hitchhiker and a so-so relationship for Helms that could be dicey but the film is so loosely assembled it could end at any moment and we’d be fine.
Helms is yet another divorced dad with a kid who doesn’t respect him; Wilson is a beach bum who’s about to marry. Both have played variations on these themes so often you’d think they’d be as tired of them as we are.
While Wilson and Helms as twins is a stretch, it’s only one of many.
Close as their mom is pretty sad, too, particularly since this is so beneath her talent.
Walken does just that – walks on – and Katie Aselton is merely a diversion for Helms.
By the time we learn the truth (and it’s nothing earthshattering), we really don’t care who did what to whom.
“Father Figures” is a sketchy comedy that could have used several rewrites and one less dad.
What it offers is strictly deadbeat.