The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best
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The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

Hey kids! You like independent rock and roll music? You like T-shirts with faded corporate logos on them? Well then you'll love... aw, no you won't.

Ryan O’Nan (USA, Discoveries)


Friday, September 9, 10 p.m.
Scotiabank Theatre 4 (259 Richmond Street West)

Sunday, September 11, 4:15 p.m.
AMC 7 (10 Dundas Street East)

Friday, September 16, 3:15 p.m.
AMC 7 (10 Dundas Street East)

Usually it’s Sundance, not Toronto, where everyone rushes to take the temperature of American indie cinema. But Ryan O’Nan’s debut as writer/director (he comes to the cinema from the writing bullpen of Skins) says so much about how sterile and derivative American indie filmmakers have become that we can’t help wringing our hands about it. O’Nan himself (who looks like the missing link between Charlie Kelly and Paul Rudd) plays a struggling Brooklyn musician, Alex, who’s confronted by a total stranger, Jim (Michael Weston), to join him on a cross-country tour. With no other prospects, Alex accepts, and the two set out in their cutesy-crappy car to bore the nation with their music.

Calling themselves the Brooklyn Brothers (even though Jim is from Jersey), the two play the most insufferable kind of consciously dorky singer/songwriter-driven stuff: You know: acoustic guitars, keyboard drum beats, little kids’ melodicas, all that shit. But, because nobody in O’Nan’s version of American has heard Animal Collective or Magnetic Fields or anything, the Brooklyn Brothers’ adorably eccentric tunes win over even the harshest tribunals (Middle Americans in bars, redneck frat kids, even painted goths). There are moments of humour in O’Nan’s script, and a few clutch cameos (Christopher McDonald, Wilmer Valderrama, the guy who played Bulldog on Frasier, even Melissa Leo shows up for some reason), but Brooklyn Brothers is the faux-vintage Urban Outfitters tee of “hip” indie cinema; mawkish, sub-Juno mollycoddling. Oh, but Andrew McCarthy picks up a cheque, playing Alex’s conservative Christian brother, which should thrill all you Weekend At Bernie’s acolyte(s) out there.