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The Brothers


The Brothers

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A weird mixture of barely competent filmmaking, lowbrow humor, unabashed melodrama, and earnest intentions, The Brothers sends four black friends—a cross-section of upwardly mobile males—in search of a definition of contemporary sexual and filial propriety. Sometimes it combines the issues in an awkwardly revealing jumble. D.L. Hughley plays the only married member of the bunch, a man whose happy, fruitful partnership is threatened by his wife's aversion to oral sex. After negotiations to end her standoff break down, he retaliates by threatening to move his Alzheimer's-stricken mother (Marla Gibbs) into their house. Meanwhile, commitment-phobic Morris Chestnut seems to have found his dream woman (Gabrielle Union), but breaks it off immediately after discovering that she briefly dated his dad. And why does Bill Bellamy bounce from one bed to another and announce his distaste for black women? Could it be his loveless, chain-smoking mother? Only Shemar Moore seems to be free from the sticky logic of The Brothers' parent-to-child chain of emotional and sexual dysfunction, but Moore's relationship with a woman who's unhealthily fixated on guns carries its own issues. First-time director Gary Hardwick, who also scripted and appears in a cameo, doesn't really seem capable of delving deeply into a single plot, much less four, but it's easy to admire his attempts to squeeze a miniseries worth of material into a relatively short feature. Unfortunately, he rarely finds ways to move his stories forward, apart from an endless succession of apartment-bound scenes burdened with drab dialogue, and the occasional mournful piano solo when things turn serious. The one counterbalance for his lack of craft lies in his obvious concern for his characters and the issues at stake. One of the many pauses for speeches even includes an impassioned cry for female independence from Tatyana Ali. If the film didn't immediately cut to the heaving, bikini-clad chest of a bachelor-party attendee, her words might have been allowed some impact.