Movie Review: The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

By Stephen Rebello

Ryan O'Nan's highly personal directorial debut features a truckload of scruff, whimsy, tinny emotion and indie movie affection.

Director: Ryan O'Nan

MPAA Rating: Unrated

Studio: Taggart Productions

There’s a truckload of scruff, whimsy, tinny emotion and indie movie affection to wade through in Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best. The film feels like a highly personal one for star, composer and performer of about a dozen songs, let alone writer and first-time director, Ryan O’Nan. He plays a struggling, perpetually melancholy singer-songwriter whose goofy bandmate (Jason Ritter) cans him the same day he gets his walking papers from his girlfriend and he punches out a mentally challenged schoolkid while wearing an animal costume.

Where does any movie go from there? On a distinctly sub-Alexander Payne-style road trip, that’s where, as our hero hooks up with a quirky, stalkerish fan and sort-of musician (Michael Weston) and a sexy, shifty “manager” (Arielle Kebbel). In a haphazard series of mostly disastrous concerts in theaters, parking lots and deserted roadsides, O’Nan picks his guitar and croons while Weston pecks on a series of toy instruments; somehow the crowds, rather than walk away or hurl insults and bottles, dance and sway uproariously. Such are the mechanics of movie wish fulfillment.

The film finds cameo roles for Christopher McDonald, Melissa Leo, Andrew McCarthy and Wilmer Valderrama, the last of whom are both very enjoyable. It’s good to have actor friends, right? The movie delivers some genuine laughs and a whiff of shaggy chemistry between O’Nan and Weston. It’s a nice, pleasurable, slightly stretched out 98 minutes but not much more.


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