Well Go Usa // 2011 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // July 18th, 2011
Not every idea is a winner.
I'm not sure why Dax Shepard decided to make Brother's Justice, the bit-part comic's fake documentary about his trying to become a martial arts action star. Maybe he just wanted an I'm Still Here to call his own, although no viewer will be arguing about this project's authenticity after the final credits roll. Shepard has designed Brother's Justice to play purely for laughs, gently riffing on bruised Hollywood egos, absurd pet projects, and the ignorance that regularly accompanies fame. All of these themes were admittedly used better in Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder, but that's not to say Brother's Justice doesn't have enough laughs to deem it rental worthy.
Dax Shepard is sick of being a comedian. Tired of playing second fiddle to the likes of Dane Cook and Tina Fey in his movies, Dax decides to strike out and craft a career as a bona fide kung fu superstar. The film he intends to make is called "Brother's Justice," casting himself in the leading role, with doubting best friend Nate Tuck roped in to produce. Together they unsuccessfully shop the idea around Hollywood, finding yawns and disbelieving stares everywhere they go. Dax's celebrity acquaintances aren't much use either, with everyone from Tom Arnold to Bradley Cooper doing more damage than good.
Brother's Justice just about holds together for its brief 80 minute runtime, providing a short but very digestible dosage of ridiculous comedy. Shepard doesn't make many fresh points during the course of the movie (he paints himself as deluded, self-important, and homophobic throughout); instead beating on the same satirical doors that have already served dozens of other lampoons. However, there's a true commitment to silliness here that can't be faulted, Shepard unafraid to make himself or anyone else look like a fool in pursuit of laughs. There are at least three very funny sequences in Brother's Justice, Shepard's knack for sly improvisations helping to sate audience desire for giggles during the drier patches. Ultimately I foundBrother's Justice to be a moderately entertaining and totally tolerable experience. It's uneven and unoriginal, but it's got chutzpah to burn.
Aesthetically the movie adopts a low-fi vibe (in an attempt to concoct the illusion of reality), only breaking from handheld camera work during occasional trailers (Tropic Thunder again?) for other stories Shepard is trying to make. Bar the very last of these (entitled "Jeung Guns") none really work, they're overproduced and generally unfunny. I expect these were added late in production to beef up the final product, but there was really no need, they add little to the sense of fun permeating from the picture.
It's also worth noting that the quality of acting varies wildly throughout. Many of the producers and agents Dax meets with don't convince at all (and that includes buddy Nate Tuck), but the stars featured tend to fare better. Tom Arnold is erratic, but Bradley Cooper leaves an impression whilst Shepard himself deserves at least mild kudos. I wouldn't necessarily demand people seek out Brother's Justice, but it represents an amiable enough way to fill your time.
The disc comes with a chatty commentary hosted by Shepard and some of his cohorts, it's not hugely informative but through some good jokes it becomes endearing. The deleted sequences included are useless, as is the inclusion of an 8 minute feature pitched by Shepard in the movie. It's not really funny there and as an isolated slice of extra content it doesn't massively improve. The extras (minus the commentary) run for about 20 minutes.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go Usa
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Short Film