Anyone who savors Dax Shepard's warmly engaging turn as family screw-up Crosby Braverman on TV's fine "Parenthood" is bound to be far less enchanted by the Shepard who wrote, co-directed and stars in the patchy mockumentary "Brother's Justice."
Sure, this frequently improvised spoof isn't intended to be taken seriously, but it's also not funny or incisive enough to counter the unappealing persona the actor-comedian has concocted here: an impulsive, clueless narcissist on a journey to reinvent himself as an action star.
Armed with a seedling of an idea for a martial arts movie called "Brother's Justice," Shepard, along with hapless producing pal Nate Tuck, traipses around L.A. trying to corral a raft of industry folks -- including Ashton Kutcher, Tom Arnold and Jon Favreau -- to help kick start his harebrained venture. Shepard, realizing he needs warrior cred if he wants rebranding, goes on a "training spree," complete with an "Eye of the Tiger"-backed workout montage. But all the kung fu fighting in the world can't surmount, well, sheer stupidity.
A curveball involving Bradley Cooper and David Koechner seals the fate of Shepard's "passion project" -- or does it? And by then, do we care?
Better to revisit such memorable Hollywood satires as "The Big Picture" or "For Your Consideration" before indulging Shepard's uninspired whimsy.
-- Gary Goldstein
"Brother's Justice." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.