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The Brothers Solomon

Lowbrow Fraternal Follies

The pairing of Will Arnett, star of the devilishly subversive "Arrested Development", and Bob Odenkirk, co-creator of the tragically underappreciated "Mr. Show", has already yielded one underwhelming comedy, last year’s Let’s Go to Prison. Now comes The Brothers Solomon, a slight upgrade in which Arnett and "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Forte embark on a desperate quest to produce a grandchild for their ailing father.

It is an epic endeavor for the clueless siblings, whose sheltered upbringing -- home-schooled by their pathologically upbeat dad in the North Pole -- doesn’t adequately explain their boorish, anti-social behavior. They’re good guys at heart, or so we’re told, but they are far creepier and less engaging than their cinematic forebears, Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. Beneath their toothy grins lurks a subtle but effectively off-putting misanthropy.

And yet there are moments when Arnett and Forte are sharp enough to wring laughs from a script that too often stretches modestly amusing ideas to their breaking point. As a Don Juan wannabe with a predatory streak, Arnett never misses a chance to stalk the beautiful girl next door (Malin Akerman, of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle), and his goofy, misguided antics provide some of the film’s comic high points. But that gag, like so many others, wears perilously thin.

Odenkirk, who directed, deserves a lion’s share of the blame; as the architect of America’s finest sketch-comedy series, he might have stepped in with some ideas of his own. Instead, he lets the cameras roll as Forte’s story limps toward its obvious and ill-conceived conclusion.

Like Knocked Up and Superbad, The Brothers Solomon is cringe-worthy entertainment, but the comparison ends there. Judd Apatow’s comedies may revel in raunch, but they are typically informed by some sense of wit and style; none of that is in evidence here.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars