Movie review of “Brother Nature”: “Saturday Night Live” veterans Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan star as an uptight politician and a wild camp counselor stuck with each other on a rural vacation in this sporadically funny comedy. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
A few weeks ago, comic actor Taran Killam was surprisingly and unceremoniously fired from the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” just prior to the upcoming 42nd season of NBC’s legendary show.
Yet here we have Killam starring in the ambitious if fitfully funny “Brother Nature” — coscripted by him and “SNL” writer Mikey Day; produced by “SNL” honcho Lorne Michaels; directed by a pair of the series’ behind-the-camera veterans; and co-starring “SNL” cast member Bobby Moynihan, with strong cameo appearances by more “SNL” peers: Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant and Mike O’Brien.
Talk about mixed signals from the world of late-night comedy.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Brother Nature,’ with Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Bill Pullman, Rita Wilson, Gillian Jacobs, Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant, Mike O’Brien. Directed by Oz Rodriguez and Matt Villines, from a screenplay by Killam and Mikey Day, based on a story by Cameron Fay. 96 minutes. Rated R for drug and sexual references. Several theaters.
In every way, “Brother Nature” easily fits a certain model of buddy movie that has grown out of “SNL” in years past. It’s not hard to imagine this film about an uptight politician and a wild man — shot in Seattle and at what appears to be Lake Chelan — as a one-time vehicle for David Spade and Chris Farley.
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Killam is Roger, who is running for office. Life seems good: Roger is also planning to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Gwen (Gillian Jacobs), while on a lakeside vacation where he will meet her entire family. What could go wrong?
With echoes of “Meet the Parents,” “Brother Nature” chronicles poor Roger’s mishaps with Gwen’s folks (nice work by Bill Pullman and Rita Wilson) and assorted relatives. The standout is Todd (Moynihan), an impulsive, happy-go-lucky camp counselor who causes starchy Roger to panic during the movie’s best moments.
Killam and Day’s script, and the sketch-oriented direction by Oz Rodriguez and the late Matt Villines, are prone to chase-the-joke, short-term thinking. But that’s par for most comedies now. “Brother Nature” at least enjoys moments of deep-end mania from Killam and Moynihan.