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SXSW Snapshot: John Bryant’s “The Overbrook Brothers”

SXSW Snapshot: John Bryant's "The Overbrook Brothers"

I was ready to pan “The Overbrook Brothers,” John Bryant’s zany road trip comedy about two adopted brothers in search of their adopted parents, but then it started to grow on me. Somewhere between the eccentric character stylings of “Napoleon Dynamite” and the gross-out extremes of Farrelly brothers lies the unique sense of humor contained in this movie. While I didn’t respond to the jokes, something about the legitimate discomfort of these characters’ shared dilemma resonated with me. It’s just clever enough of a farce to make me wish it was slightly cleverer.

The story begins at Christmas, when sibling rivals Jason (Nathan Harlan) and Todd (Mark Reeb) show up at their father’s house with girlfriends in tow. Todd, the smarmy one of the group, instigates a fight with Jason over a variety of pointless familial issues. They gradually devolve into children, their verbal attacks giving way to physical ones. Todd fires off that Jason’s adopted — which turns out to be true for both of them, from different mothers. Bingo! Plot point one in the bag, and cue the road trip. Bryant could write a studio comedy and it would probably rise a notch above the rest, given the complexity of his two main characters (Jason’s a daydreamer who wishes he could write enthralling fiction; Todd’s a total creep). The plot takes a remarkable dark turn in the later scenes, as the brothers come closer to accomplishing their goal, but it loses some momentum due to the simplistic comedy.

As the story moves along, it successfully builds two legitimate personalities at odds with one another. However, their obnoxious quirks, the meager emotional payoff, and the facile dick and fart jokes simply don’t resonate with me. But the story follows a certain logic from beginning to end, and the tension between the two brothers is real enough that it stayed in my head. Somewhere, in a deep, uncharted canyon of my mind, “The Overture Brothers” is turning into a slightly better movie.

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