After watching Katherine Heigl have all the fun in “Knocked Up,” Kristen Wiig gives pregnancy a shot in “The Brothers Solomon,” a forced split-the-baby comedy that proves unwise from its very conception. When titular sibs Will Arnett and Will Forte decide the only way to wake their father from an arbitrary coma is to give him the grandchild he always wanted, they recruit Wiig in a lame-brained artificial-insemination scheme. If “Hot Rod” and “The Ex” couldn’t attract an aud, this full-blown comedy miscarriage stands no chance.
Arnett and Forte play thirtysomething bachelors John and Dean Solomon, two bone-headed brothers who are constantly deferring to one another’s “better judgment.” Raised in the arctic by a single father (Lee Majors), the two socially awkward sibs are ill-equipped for modern dating, their acts of intended chivalry grossly misinterpreted by the women they pursue. On a typical first date, John proposes, and Dean kisses his girlfriend’s father on the lips.
When presented with a challenge, the Solomon boys are capable of talking one another into the worst possible ideas. It’s an intermittently amusing dynamic that eliminates any potential for conflict, as the duo agree on even the most ludicrous solutions — namely, a plot to deliver a baby to make their father proud. The challenge, of course, comes in convincing perfect strangers to go along with their schemes.
A check for $12,000 is all it takes to persuade the opportunistic Janine (Wiig) to serve as their surrogate, although the would-be mother, located via Craigslist, complicates things by bringing her antagonistic ex-boyfriend (Chi McBride) into the mix. While the two brothers debate who will do the honors of impregnating her, John sets his sights on Tara, the hottie across the hallway (rising starlet Malin Akerman, who possesses model-beautiful looks but not much range), who exists solely to set up yet another joke that doesn’t work.
In director Bob Odenkirk’s eyes, there would seem to be little distinction between a serious drama putting a character in a coma and giving Majors the same treatment for comedic purposes, although most auds would vehemently disagree. Nothing so much as resembling genuine emotion occurs in “The Brothers Solomon” (Arnett and Forte specialize in fake tears and plastic grins), placing this comedy in a far different class from this summer’s earlier childbirth comedy, “Knocked Up.”
The screenwriting credit goes to “Saturday Night Live’s” Forte, who repeats that show’s frequent sin of crafting sketches that overstay their welcome. Auds must sit patiently by while run-on routines baby-step toward their obvious punchlines, then fall flat, as in a scene in which the brothers hire an aerial billboard to deliver a preposterously long message, only to run out of room at the very end.
Rare is the joke that catches us off-guard, although there is one fresh gag in which the brothers practice changing diapers stuffed with the unlikeliest ingredients. Though neither actor is quite ready to play lead, Arnett has mastered the “most insensitive man in the world” routine, while Forte excels at a unique cross between stunted man-child and Igor-like half-wit. Here, they are Wacky and Wackier, in desperate need of a straight man to accentuate their brand of comedy.
Despite its flaws, pic cuts together as if it were the film Odenkirk set out to make. Cheeky music alternates between composer John Swihart’s near-constant chorus of la-la-las and multiple variations on the “St. Elmo’s Fire” theme, “Man in Motion.”