A new comedy from Owen Wilson and Ed Helms slipped into theaters this weekend, and judging by the reviews, it’s looking like Warner Bros. should have kept on pretending that this stinker didn’t exist. Formerly known as Bastards, the project was initially filmed way back in the fall of 2015. Originally slated to debut in November of 2016, poor test screenings led WB to drop it from the release schedule. After sitting on the shelf for months, reshoots were conducted in an effort to beef up the laughs. Which begs the question: how painfully unfunny was this thing before it was reshot?
Father Figures is the product of screenwriter Justin Malen and first time director Lawrence Sher. The latter is best known for his collaborations with Todd Phillips, having served as his cinematographer on everything from the Hangover trilogy to 2016’s War Dogs. Malen, meanwhile, is best known for penning the underwhelming 2016 comedy Office Christmas Party. It hasn’t proven to be a match made in heaven, and neither has the headlining duo of Helms and Wilson.
The long-delayed comedy quietly snuck into theaters this weekend, buried by a host of higher profile projects. Any hopes Warner Bros. had that Father Figures would become a counter-programming hit alongside the likes of The Last Jedi and Jumanji have quickly faded, however. Its poor critical consensus certainly hasn’t helped. Read on to check out The Most Brutal Reviews Of Father Figures.
It’s as if everyone involved can’t wait for it all to be over and go home. Viewers will know how they feel, especially when the movie decides, too frequently, that it’s got too much heart to pursue its comedy with any zest. Its scenes aren’t really long or improv-heavy enough to qualify as rambling, but they’re often slow enough to qualify as excruciating. — AV Club
The scenes are either too heavy (the climax is the downer of the year), too sedate or too gross. Would you like to watch Wilson and a young child urinate on each other in a rest stop bathroom? Thought not. — New York Post
Watching “Father Figures” is like finding a piece of food in the back of your fridge that you barely recognize, but know right away it’s not worth eating. Ostensibly a comedy in which Ed Helms and Owen Wilson try to find the dad they never knew, it unfurls its stale scenarios of familial grievance, R-rated gags and white male anxiety with a breathtaking level of laziness. — The Wrap
Distinguished mainly by its overqualified cast and lack of inspiration, Father Figures can’t decide whether it’s a gross-out comedy or an uplifting tale of brotherly love; it embraces the worst of both worlds. When not lobbing jokes about prostates, possible incest and mammoth cat testicles, the movie stops cold for Mr. Helms and Mr. Wilson (who can act, on the basis of other movies) to muddle through one heart-to-heart after another. Father Figures purports to run about two hours, but it feels like the length of Kyle and Peter’s upbringing. — New York Times
“Father Figures” is the latest textbook in how to make a lazy Hollywood comedy, placed slightly higher than theatrically-released Adam Sandler movies and “A Bad Mom’s Christmas” because it doesn’t always look like it takes place inside a commercial … Father Figures is not just painfully anti-charming, it is transparently desperate. — RogerEbert.com
And hell’s bells, none of it is the least bit funny. You’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the movie. No, the trailer’s not funny either. Cinematographer-turned-director Lawrence Sher took a job from any number of unemployed directs with talent. Screenwriter Justin Malen wrote Office Christmas Party. And in a just universe, they’d be the only ones in two hours of comic purgatory, not us, and not the should-know-better Helms and the ever-hapless Wilson. — Movie Nation
“Father Figures” is a movie, ostensibly. I’m pretty sure it is. Moving images were projected, along with recorded sound, which indicates it is a movie, but the effect was so listless, low-energy and profoundly unentertaining that I jotted down in my notes “what even IS this?” — The Roanoke Times
Father Figures is a baffling film, one that never seems to ever get a handle on what it is or what it wants to be. It’s one thing to make a movie about characters stuck in arrested development, unsure of where they’re going, but it’s another for the writing and editing to also feel that way. In short, Father Figures is just a straight-up mess. — IGN
Father Figures is what happens when you throw a comedy and the laughs forget to show up — Detroit News
Father Figures, which leaves you with the image of Ed Helms and Owen Wilson hugging it out to heal each other’s inner wound, turns into an overdose of emotional eggnog. It’s enough to make you wonder: Can a movie reach your heart if it’s already clogged your arteries? — Variety
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