Review: Call Me Brother

Title: Call Me Brother
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directors: David Howe
Starring: Christina Parrish, Andrew Dismukes, Asaf Ronen
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins

What It Is: Lisa and Frank are a close pair of siblings. When their parents have a nasty split-up, the young duo is consequently separated as well and are forced to live between two different households. Years later, it’s summer vacation, they’re teenagers, and Lisa comes over to stay for the weekend. The siblings find their closeness again until they soon realize their feelings of love for each other blossom into something unholy…

What We Think: It looked really nice, which of course never hurts. As I mentioned, the cinematography overall (minus the gross stuff) made sense and could be pretty pleasant at times. The editing is solid, the pacing felt right (though it does slow down the farther along it gets). The acting was good–like its humor, in a way, all the characters are to the point. You immediately know what kind of joke they are as soon as they enter the frame, not too far off from the awkward and unintelligent subjects of a Jim Hosking joint. To its additional credit, this makes the two protagonists stand out as they seemingly present as the most human and grounded (or at least relatable) characters, juxtaposed against the supporting cast.

That being said, yes it’s incest comedy. Yes, I’m considering it seriously. As far as its humor goes, not too far from the likes of Hosking, Superbad, or even How to Get Girls, yet the presentation and timing can be at times pretty on point. It wasn’t necessarily a riot of laughs that it got from me, nor expected any. I think more than anything else it just wanted to be a gross-out shock movie, much like how sometimes people laugh after they get scared, they would theoretically laugh as the incredibly cringey situation plays out before them. Does it work? As a comedy, yes. Certain things about it were funny, creepily picturesque at first. Quirky would be the best word to describe it. Then predictably, it descends you into an uncomfortable hell where the sexual tension between multiple characters gets more and more daring. No, it’s not really any more extreme than your average raunchy comedy; not all the jokes landed but at an occasional chuckle would.

What is contestable? Obviously, not everyone is going to flock to “incest-com”, as prominently self-aware as it is. Watching two very compatible siblings getting their hormones mixed up in their relationship can be torture and some of the gross-out stuff might be too much for some and that’s fine. This movie, although definitely awkward, never quite crossed the line for me which is fine, except for one shot where the camera lingers on a child’s behind as they are bend over to reach something. That, in particular, makes me want to barf and is definitely not to the benefit of this film’s grade and overall felt like the creative style stooped too low into a mocking immaturity, a moment to prove just how much “symbolic innuendo” can be plastered onto these characters. The symbolism on the adult actors portraying teenagers is fine; on children, I don’t see it as fitting in but that may be another conversation altogether. It was almost as if they were parodying the male gaze but on a child and that doesn’t really sit right with me ethically.

Our Grade: C-, Ultimately horrifying. Not bad, but its lasting impression is really one big joke that leaves a bit of a bitter taste. Had it come through stronger, perhaps shaved some minutes off, and pushed harder on the comedy and/or awkwardness, it would have scored way higher. There were parts that I legitimately enjoyed, the acting was great and everyone had their moment to shine, and I don’t think it’s a bad concept in theory. It’s a pretty hard concept to pull off and… they almost made it. I think. This one didn’t quite make the mark, but maybe the next will. Nonetheless, I can’t say I’ll be looking back at this movie with happy thoughts–rather I’m just wishing it went all the way rather than tripping up the times it does, especially since the payoff doesn’t lay as hilariously as it should have.

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Author: Chai Simone