What up, Buttercups?
This is really a film of two parts. It follows the stories of a pair of twins (Brady and Bill) both played by Ed Norton.
Brady is a weed farmer with a relaxed attitude and Bill leads a buttoned down life as a professor and renowned philosopher. The plot is basically Brady wants to go clean and needs Bills help to do so. Hi-jinks ensue.
But there are moments of brilliance. Kerri Russell plays a poet with a beautiful world view who can also noodle a catfish. Reciting Walt Whitman while gutting a catfish is odd but a perfect juxtaposition for a character that his this unique world view while living back where she grew up.
Whereas Bill would rather be away from the small town life and his family.
It’s stated early on in the film that Brady is the smarter of the two and it shows. He has his own ideas about the world. It’s a simpler view than his brother’s. He is filling the film’s role as a permanently stoned philosopher. A man who has the ‘mojo’ to talk people into doing things they don’t want to, or more accurately, talking them into doing things they don’t think they want to.
Its a story of how two people so alike can be comfortable in different skins. Brady is happy in his little world. He his friends, his girlfriend and is about to become a Dad.
Bill, on the other hand, is living this single almost lonely life in Rhode Island. He’s on the career fast track and can talk beautifully about his subject but everything in his life is skewed towards discipline. He teaches the classics and during the first few minutes of the movie he espouses the notion that logic and passion are irreconcilable. That for the few fleeting moments that we think we have a balance between the two of them we are pretending to be God and are heading for a fall.
So the comedy in the film is very formulaic. Two people forced into a situation while they have wildly different attitudes. It’s very much in the vein of the Odd Couple. Then they add in a “It’s not what it looks like” subplot between Bill and one of his students and a blackmail subplot.
It’s not Hollywood’s finest movie. There are times when I was watching this film that I was overwhelmed with the feeling that when this film was being made they weren’t sure what they wanted it to be. There are moments of comedy, romance, deep thought and crime.
This is an odd film. One that I’m not sure I’d watch again considering I struggled to get through it the first time. There were moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout the film but it quickly dissolved into a mess that left me feeling so much of the potential in this film was wasted. It feels like nothing gets resolved.
The epiphany comes at the very end. There are murders and some romance and acceptance in some form but it all feels hollow in a beautiful way.
It’s a film about acceptance; of where we come from, of who we are and the life we find ourselves living. There is an element of facing our fears and, by facing them, realising there is nothing to be scared of in the first place and continuing to be afraid of them is pointless.
There are a lot of setups for jokes and comedy moments that don’t pay off in the way you’d think they should and I can’t decide if that’s bad writing or something new that didn’t work out as first intended.
Richard Dreyfuss plays a Jewish drug kingpin for a handful of minutes and Susan Saradon plays Brady and Bill’s hippy mother again in a role that feels more like a cameo.
There is plenty talent in the picture but the story feels somewhere between a life changing movie and a crime caper.
My biggest feeling after watching this is that there was so much potential that went untapped.