Review: Road trip comedy ‘Father Figures’ loses its way

Filmed in 2015 and originally titled ‘Bastards,’ this Christmas present should have stayed wrapped

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

“Father Figures” is what happens when you throw a comedy and the laughs forget to show up.

Owen Wilson and Ed Helms are Kyle and Peter, twin brothers who grew up thinking their father was dead. When mom (Glenn Close) tells them otherwise, they set off on a road trip to try and find dear old dad.

That search first brings them to Terry Bradshaw (playing himself), who reveals that yes, he and their mother had relations in the freewheeling 1970s, but not during the month they were conceived. He tips them off to check out Ronald Hunt (J.K. Simmons), who also partied with mom, but not on the dates in question.

And so on. The raunchy, frank treatment of their mother’s sexual past is supposed to bring guffaws, but the script by Justin Malen (“Office Christmas Party”) can’t decide whether it wants to be smutty or sweet. It’s neither: it’s one of those comedies that asks us to believe adults behaving like complete imbeciles have something relatable to teach us about family. Thanks, but hard pass.

Beyond that, it’s sloppy and slapdash; a bizarre sequence at a rest stop dead-ends on a narrative cliff, and Katt Williams shows up as a hitchhiker whose main character trait is he’s not a serial killer. Huh?

Wilson and Helms play into their types; Wilson is a laid back beach bum who cashed in when his likeness was used on a BBQ sauce label, Helms is an uptight physician with a kid who hates him and who is struggling to get over his divorce. As adults they’ve drifted apart, but the road trip brings them together, just another item off the checklist. At least we’re spared a bonding karaoke sequence.


(313) 222-2284


‘Father Figures’


Rated R for language and sexual references throughout

Running time:

125 minutes