Fans of winsome lo-fi electro acoustica may be able to see the bright side of this derivative American indie that picks on easy targets.
The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best is a curious film, and for all the wrong reasons. While it's customary for low budget American indie films to be chided for closely resembling other low budget American indie films (a line of accusation that inevitable leads back to the dusty doors of Sundance), this directorial debut from Ryan O' Nan makes no discernible attempt to disguise any one of its rapacious cut-and-paste tendencies.
Resembling foremost a less funny and sloppily written Xerox of Flight of the Conchords, O' Nan's rambling musical comedy sees his rinky-dinky, dead-end indie minstrel Alex take a tour across America to see if he can find an audience for his ultra-twee, death-fixated lo-fi noodling. He hooks up with psychotic live-wire Jim (Michael Weston), the pair pack an old banger full of toy pianos and, while there's bickering a-plenty, their musical sensibilities happen to magically chime.
Leaning on tried-and-tested passive aggressive humour and stock supporting characters, the problem here is that O' Nan appears to have no idea of anything – musically, cinematically, comedically, culturally – that has come before his film. It's summed up in a scene when The Brooklyn Brothers manage to score a gig, and the lithe female promoter (Arielle Kebbel) comes up to them afterwards and complements them on their sound, commenting that she has never heard anything like that before.
If that was indeed the case, then she's a music promoter who has never turned on a radio, never been into a record shop, never watched a mobile phone TV commercial and lived her entire life thus far with an ovesized pair of industrial ear protecters cemented permanently to her skull.
Though O'Nan clearly thinks that his various jibes aimed at corporate culture, southern hicks, megalomaniac music promoters, the old, "retards", women and over-attentive parents are fair game because he makes his own character such an out-and-out loser, the film's charm credentials are seriously damaged by the sneering tone and its insistence on drafting in cheap, hateful caricatures at every turn.
Following a final-act dip into bathetic soul searching where O'Nan gives himself a long scene where he converses with a small boy (who, naturally, inspires him to carry on with his music), the film ends on a cheery note where The Brooklyn Brothers finally comprehend that mainstream acceptance will always allude them and they must accept that they are outsiders who should play to outsiders.
They begin a jam in front of a crowd of goths who have assembled outside a hard rock concert, and instead of staving their heads in with a breeze-block and trampling on their winsome remains, the make-up daubed miserablists start swaying along in delight. Yeah, right...
This American indie about struggling indie musicians crops up in the middle of the Summer dumping ground.
A few sweet moments and the music is decent, but if you want to see this film, you'll probably have seen it before.
O' Nan needs to retool and get some new material.