By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Everybody loves a feel good story, especially if the events or characters are relatable, the story is believable and there’s a happy ending coupled with tension and suspense. Sadly, "My Brother" is not all of the above. Billed as a melodramatic tale about two improvised boys growing up in New York City and the bond they share after their mother succumbs to an illness, it has the potential to be a truly compelling emotional rollercoaster but falls short.
Isaiah (Kearse) and James (Scott) are brothers. James has Downs Syndrome and Isaiah is an aspiring comedian who showcases his skits at the Comedy Store in the city. Both share a closeness which has been instilled in them as children by their mother L’Tisha (Williams) prior to dying of tuberculosis. Broke and frustrated with the lack of direction his comedy showcase is heading, Isaiah is introduced by friend and fellow comedian Pharaoh (Starr) to a group of shady men willing to pay him for a quick job. The instructions are simple: deliver an unopened package to a party where there will be another unopened similar package in a bathroom. Switch packages and when contacted deliver the switched package to the men or face the consequences. Naturally, Isaiah loses the package and fearing for his life flees the city leaving James alone and in jeopardy.
To put it bluntly, "My Brother" is a slow movie and there is simply not enough to keep one entertained. Sure, the story of a poor, close knit family trying to get by is a positive one, but beyond that it offers little else but fluff. For starters, it’s hard to emotionally connect with the character’s plight and furthermore, the whole package incident inserted to put both brothers life’s in jeopardy is done so badly that it’s ineffective. After initially losing the package, Isaiah’s actions are clearly not one who fears for his life. Convinced Erica Walters (O’Neal), who he meets at the party stole the package, Isaiah takes her out to a club for a night of fun and dancing eventually bringing her back to his apartment for a night cap, which is foiled by James’s presence. Confused? Me too. I won’t giveaway any spoilers by mentioning where the package eventually ends up for that alone is the reason to watch the movie in its entirety as the bond between the brothers is fully established on the onset.
"My Brother" straddles two time periods with flashbacks to Isaiah and James’s childhood, which are the few scenes where Williams appears. Particularly poignant is the scene is when she berates Isaiah with a lesson in life after he gets a D on his report card. Laughable, is another scene where a teenage Isaiah breaks into a mental institution in the middle of the night to rescue his brother after both are separated when their mother dies. Then there’s the bathroom scene at the club where O’Neal’s character is heckled and harassed by a group of angry black women who take offense with the fact that Isaiah is dating a white chick. An unnecessary distraction from otherwise almost decent storyline – let’s call it another fluff. The acting is commendable, especially the child actors who play the younger Isaiah and James and of course Williams, who could easily score a best actress award for her part.
This film is certainly about the strength of brotherly love, but if you’re expecting an emotional rollercoaster you will be well advised to skip this one for it has too many loopholes and far too many unanswered questions.