Father Figures

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Father Figures Movie Poster Image
Raunchy, unfunny comedy might have been better as a drama.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is a journey of self-discovery, but not in a way that's particularly admirable or satisfying. Plenty of iffy behavior along the way, too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Definitely no role models here, unless you consider football hero Terry Bradshaw. Helen is said to have once performed a selfless act.

Violence

Guns are drawn but not fired. Train crashes into car. Car crashes into person. Character thought to be dead. Fighting and punching, with subsequent black eyes and bruises. Arguing. Character shot with tranquilizer dart, falls.

Sex

A woman isn't sure who the father of her twins was; she describes the promiscuousness of the 1970s. A man picks a woman up in a bar; they go back to a hotel room and start undressing. Shirtless male, woman in bra, suggested sex. Husband and wife kiss passionately during a wedding ceremony. Talk of "getting someone laid." Brief, strong sexual innuendo. Suggestion of incest (proven false). Drink spilled on woman's cleavage; man tries to wipe it up with a napkin. Characters pee on each other (though it's not sexual in nature).

Language

Many uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "c--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "p---y," "ass," "butt," "d--k," "goddamn," "idiot," "pissed," "muff," "moron," "nipples," etc., plus "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). "Negro" said by a black character.

Consumerism

Apple iPhone shown. "Apple products" mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Twice, a main character takes refuge in a glass of whiskey when upset. Some social drinking. Mentions of "getting high."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Father Figures is a raunchy comedy about twin brothers (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) who go on a road trip to discover their birth father's identity. Violence (often played for laughs) includes fighting, cars hitting people, trains crashing into cars, and guns. Language is quite strong, with many uses of "f--k," "c--k," "p---y," and much more. The entire plot of the movie is based on the notion that a woman was so promiscuous in the 1970s that she doesn't know who her sons' birth father is. There's also passionate kissing, strong sexual innuendo, cleavage and people shown without their shirts, and a suggested hookup in a hotel room. A character drinks while sad; there's also social drinking and mention of "getting high." The movie relies on dumb, gross, forced humor, but it does eventually generate at least a little bit of sympathy for its characters (before an insulting epilogue).

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byYvonne W. July 27, 2018

Not a male version of Mama Mia

I watched this movie with my 13 year old son on the airplane while we were looking for a comedy together. We loved Mama Mia and my son thought reading the descr... Continue reading
Adult Written byLisa H. April 9, 2018

Couldn’t make it to the end

Very raunchy and tasteless comedy. I was even embarrassed to watch with my fiancée. Definitely not for children.
Teen, 13 years old Written byYoung Rocker October 27, 2019

Ed helms at his best

Awesome and hysterical movie

What's the story?

In FATHER FIGURES, Peter Reynolds (Ed Helms) is disappointed with his life. He's divorced, his son seems to loathe him, and he can't stand his job as a proctologist. He goes to his mother's (Glenn Close) wedding and runs into his twin brother, Kyle (Owen Wilson), who seems to have the perfect life (and a perfect girlfriend) in Hawaii. Peter learns that the man he thought was his father actually isn't, and that Peter and Kyle's biological father could be one of several men ("it was the 1970s," says their mom), including football legend Terry Bradshaw. So Peter and Kyle set out on a road trip to discover the truth, meeting Bradshaw's next-door neighbor (Ving Rhames), picking up a friendly hitchhiker (Katt Williams), and meeting several other paternal candidates, including a "repo man" (J.K. Simmons) and a veterinarian (Christopher Walken). But the truth is far more complicated.

Is it any good?

This almost totally fails as a comedy, with broad, unfunny, dumb jokes (such as Wilson and a young boy urinating on each other), though it's marginally better during the goopy, heartwarming parts. Father Figures relies on the narrowest, laziest definitions of characters imaginable, and the humor that springs from them always seems forced, as if the jokes had been shoehorned into place. One so-called running gag is that Bradshaw constantly ignores Kyle and pays attention only to Peter. The movie never explains why, nor why that's supposed to be funny.

As Father Figures goes along, however, it seems to start caring about the two brothers. Some of the characters' exchanges without jokes come fairly close to sounding real and heartfelt. The climax is, impressively, not an easy solution, and it makes for a couple of very nice moments while the brothers process it. Perhaps this could have been better as an indie drama? (À la Jeff, Who Lives at Home, also with Helms.) Unfortunately, the movie blows its encouraging ending with an embarrassing, insulting "one year later" epilogue.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Father Figures' use of sex and sexual situations. Even if not much graphic stuff is shown, what makes the various situations sexual in nature? Are there positive representations of sex in the movie?

  • How does the movie depict alcohol use? Does anyone drink to avoid or forget problems? Is alcohol glamorized?

  • What do the characters learn about themselves? Do you consider any of them role models?

  • Does this movie use stereotypes? If so, how? Is that OK?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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