Movies about music and the creation of music come about as often as road films do. And what about films pertaining to a musician or musicians finding their voice or voices on a respective road trip? Well, that’s what director Ryan O’Nan and his new film entitled Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best attempts to give the film world. However, despite the inherent energy found in the performances, both within the film and its musical set pieces, of its two stars, the film neither gives the viewer a thrilling look into the creation of art or the journey of two people connecting to create the said art.
O’Nan also stars in the film, which follows the story of a young man who, coming off of a recent break up and firing, decides to join a random stranger on a road trip-music tour that he hopes will finally launch his career. Toss in a sultry road manager with whom a romance is launched for our lead, and you have a film that features rousing musical numbers blending playful instrument choices with mind-numbingly catchy pop arrangements but ultimately gives absolutely no intriguing insight into the creative process. Instead, the ambitions of this film are far lower, landing in the ballpark of mediocre romantic comedy than a groundbreaking road film.
In a way, the pair of O’Nan and co-star Michael Weston are the film’s truest stars. In their sonic interchanges, these beautiful proto-music videos, their inherent chemistry and charisma are apparent, and the songs themselves are really just top notch pop numbers. The use of inventive instrument choices and arrangements is where this film thrives, and is where the film will ultimately be difficult to get out of the heads of those who see it.
As far as filmic performances go, there is much to be desired. The film is inherently clichéd, taking just about every cue from previous romantic comedies and road movies that they could find. O’Nan and Weston have a few choice moments, particularly during a party sequence at a fraternity, but outside of that inventive sequence, the film is nothing but oddly placed comedic beats that fall as flat as the film’s cinematic aesthetic. Arielle Kebbel co-stars as the road manager of sorts, and adds a definite spark to the film, but it ultimately flames out due to a lackluster romance and a film that doesn’t quite know what it ultimately wants to be. Andrew McCarthy proves to be the film’s strongest performer, and his Christian character adds a ton of intrigue to a film that it doesn’t quite fit well into.
Music fans will surely get a kick out of this. The musical numbers and the songs themselves are truly the ‘Shins meets Sesame Street’ type numbers that the film calls them out as, and while the performances of them aren’t as strong, the music that is the center of the film is definitely top notch pop-rock. The film that finds itself surrounded by however doesn’t live up to the soundtrack. It’s a poorly made and cliché-ridden comedy that never quite knows what its aspirations are.