No one does oblivious enthusiasm like Will Arnett. His patented look of maniacal conviction, more than anything else, was what made his performance as Jason Bateman's older brother on Arrested Development so winning. Whether performing doomed-to-fail magic tricks or conversing with a jive-talking ventriloquist's dummy, Arnett always made it easy to believe how much his character believed in whatever he was doing. Able to convey with a gleam and a smile exactly how little thought went into each action, he was hilarious, and weirdly poignant, in his hopeful idiocy.
Arnett wears the same expression throughout The Brothers Solomon, playing one of two siblings who take it upon themselves to supply their comatose dad (Lee Majors) with a grandchild in hopes that it will speed up his recovery. Saturday Night Live's Will Forte, who also scripted, fills out the other half, and they make a good match, even though they mostly seem to be playing slight variations on Arnett's Arrested Development character. They're often funny in their single-minded, completely clueless pursuit of fatherhood, but in spite of some shoehorned-in backstory about a North Pole upbringing, there's little to explain their idiot routine, except routine itself. (And maybe a few too many viewings of The Jerk.)
Like this summer's strangely similar Hot Rod (also featuring Arnett), The Brothers Solomon stretches thin characters across an even thinner premise. (It also doesn't know what to do with Forte's SNL co-star Kristen Wiig, stuck here in a straight-man role.) But at least, also like Hot Rod, it manages a sweet tone and a fair number of laughs along the way. Directed by Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk (who cameos as an adoption agent), the film quickly turns into a gag-delivery device, but it's more effective than not at delivering those gags. Hackneyed bits like a trip to a sperm bank don't work, but those who stick through them will be rewarded with a truly inventive method of delivering a complicated message to many people at once. A better film would have matched Arnett's seemingly effortless intensity throughout. This okay film does merely okay by it.