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Philippe Thompson Written by Philippe Thompson
Jul. 10, 2013 | 2:26 PM

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Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (2012)


Review: Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (2012)
Available on DVD: January 8, 2013 / Running Time: 97 minutes / Rating: NR

by J. Philippe Thompson

In Writer/director Ryan O’Nan’s Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best, we follow bandmates Alex (O’Nan) and Jim (Michael Weston) as they play a series of gigs, thrown together piecemeal by Jim, that will conclude with a potential final “battle-of-the-bands” concert in Los Angeles.

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best is well-made and the cinematography was outstanding (thank you, Gavin Kelly). The Film’s narrative, however, was disjointed at times. The viewer may have a hard time buying into the logic of the band’s formation or the band’s allowing small-town promoter Cassidy (Arielle Kebbel) to join “the tour” after their first gig. Additionally, some scenes are diluted in exposition—i.e. Alex teaching his 10 year-old nephew Jackson (Jake Miller) about songwriting. The scene where Alex, dressed as a Moose, plays a song for a class of mentally handicapped children should have been presented better. Although the scene served to show an additional example of Alex’s increasingly depressing situation, it could be misconstrued as humor at the expense of the children.

Despite its flaws, Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best does communicate its coming-of-age theme. The motif of childhood dreams could have been accentuated for additional benefit, but Alex and Jim do succeed as a band, albeit in an unexpected way.

While O’Nan does not cover any new ground in this indie musical, the band’s performances are compelling. In particular, the initial jam session between Alex and Jim as they drive to their first gig captivates, as we see the band gel for the first time and find their unique sound through the use of electronic kids’ instruments. Additional scenes of the band developing their sound would have been welcome.

The final song and ending montage of the film, which encapsulates the band’s journey, is memorable and provides strong visual storytelling.

Cameo appearances include Melissa Leo, Andrew McCarthy, Christopher McDonald, Jason Ritter, and Wilmer Valderrama.

Special Features include:
• Behind the Scenes– New Interviews with Ryan O’Nan and Michael Weston
• “A Musical Moose” – Outtake reel
• Live Performance and Q&A at the Northside Festival, Brooklyn, NY
• Tag Sale Salvation and Sweet Sounds of Casio – Two Short Films by O’Nan and Weston
• Original Theatrical Trailer (Premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival)

First Comment:

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