Half of it is funny, while the other half is tedious.
“Half Brothers” is a Mexican-American version of “Planes Trains & Automobiles” and “Due Date.” Mostly “Due Date,” because the goofball passenger looks like a hybrid of Zach Galifianakis (the star of “Due Date”), Jake Johnson (with the beard and tone), and Seth Green (with the red hair). This goofball is Asher (Connor Del Rio), and he’s the American half brother of a disgruntled Mexican aviation executive named Renato (Luis Gerardo Mendez), whom he meets for the first time. Del Rio is very funny when he annoys Mendez with his verbal gimmicks, and the way he responds to them are priceless.
But the story has to be typical and cynical. Way before they meet, Renato’s father Flavio (Juan Pablo Espinosa) had to leave for America to earn his family money. But something happened to him that kept him away from home all those yers. He just passed away, and before his death, he leaves his sons clues to the true mystery of their relationship, and why he couldn’t come back to Mexico. It’s touching at times, but some of the reasons felt predictable and the characterization of Renato was often cynical.
A funnier, more elaborate way of presenting “Half Brothers” is if Asher saw “Planes Trains & and Automobiles” and told his half brother: “This adventure could be like “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.” But I seriously doubt he saw that, so maybe that’s why he couldn’t say it.
There’s a small key to the story when Renato and Flavio played with a remote control plane, which often looks like CGI effects, and later we see a factory, full of computers planes. It’s not hard to use real remote control planes, but I guess it was, because maybe the filmmakers needed them for some hardly laughs.
Another subplot is that Renato is marrying the beautiful single mom Pamelia (Pia Watson) in a few days. Her little boy (Mike A. Salazar) wears horror movie masks-some of them are funny, but he’s mostly ridiculed in school because of them. This side could have done more with the marriage and step-father-step-son relationship, but it was more focused on the half brother story.
When I see the two brothers meet, I found myself laughing at the chemistry between a stern guy and a free-spirited opportunist. I mean, Asher did lose his job at Chili’s for blaming it for not keeping up with the times. And I admire how Renato insults him and tells him to grow up. Maybe not in those words, but you get my point.
The movie was directed by Luke Greenfield, whose last entry was the guilty pleasure buddy comedy “Let’s Be Cops.” Contrary to popular belief, I actually enjoyed that movie, because despite its obvious plot, it managed to show me an entertaining connection between Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. (even though they were both on “New Girl”).
According to the chemistry and jokes between Luis Gerardo Mendez and Connor Del Rio, I was hoping it would be a guilty pleasure like that. But it didn’t have the kind of energy or spark I seek in these kinds of buddy comedies.