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The indie film genre has been booming over the last few years. “(500) Days of Summer” and “Garden State” have appealed to the “more cultured” of social classes with trendy soundtracks and hip actors. Zooey Deschanel and Zach Braff set the standard for this category of film. Many try to gain the support, fame and devotion that comes from being an indie success. “The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best,” the directorial debut of Ryan O’Nan, tries to achieve this but falls short.
Beginning with a very clichéd indie trope, the band The Brooklyn Brothers goes for the fame-seeker motif. The promise of being a professional musician is too much for Alex, played by O’Nan, so he plays music for whomever he can, even if that means playing with a fellow guitar player who writes exclusively about monsters.
Life is hard for Alex. While he idles away his time at a small real estate company where he is ridiculed for poor job performance, his patience is starting to wear thin. All he has is his guitar and the songs that he has in his head. After he is laid off, he has nearly nothing. To make matters worse, his girlfriend has just left him.
Down and out, Alex decides that he might as well give up on music. There is one man who will not give up on Alex, though. Jim, played by Michael Weston, has seen Alex’s music before, and he believes that it will be his only path to success. Jim follows Alex to a park and inadvertently knocks him unconscious. He drags him home and convinces him to come on tour with him.
This decision will change the lives of Alex and Jim forever. Along the way, they meet new people and experience both the highs and lows of what it means to be a traveling musician.
On their travels, the guys enlist Cassidy, played by Arielle Kebbel, a lonely girl who has never been out of her hometown, to come along with them to represent them on tour, only to pack up and leave after a failed show.
Coincidentally, this is where the movie also packs up and leaves behind all semblance of a pleasant finish. The movie begins to stray from cute originality to indie movie clichés. O’Nan seems to rely too much on the precedents that have been set by previous films rather than creating something that is uniquely his.
The film has the typical cute love songs and obscure pop culture references. There is the scene where the characters escape from a truly ridiculous situation by making up a friendship with Stone Temple Pilots frontman, Scott Weiland. Though humorous, the situation lacks much seriousness and fear of consequence.
Despite those shortcomings, the chemistry O’Nan and Weston have on screen is impeccable. However, it is not enough to save this movie from just being okay. You have seen movies that are much worse, but you have also seen films that are much better.
Not everything is all bad. “Brooklyn Brothers” features original music and a touching ending that leaves the viewer with a humbling feeling. The film conveys the message that sometimes being happy is much more important than being successful. “The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best,” is certainly not the best, but it is not the worst either. It would be a great way to kill an evening.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Patrick Fort at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org