Bro Daddy Movie Review: A flavourless, instantly forgettable affair
Save for a few funny situations, Bro Daddy doesn't have much to write home about
I usually make it a point to review a film immediately after I've seen it. But it's a struggle when the film turns out to be an underwhelming experience. Bro Daddy was one such. It took me a while to start writing this review because it's hard to talk about something that you don't want to expend more energy and time thinking about - something that's largely unmemorable. You wish you could sum up the entire experience in one line because you want to move on from it as quickly as possible. You hope to eliminate the aftertaste by immediately reaching for a favourite film or two.
Director: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Cast: Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Lalu Alex, Meena, Kalyani Priyadarshan
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
When a movie and its actors look and sound artificial, it doesn't necessarily mean the filmmaking is incompetent. In stories of a farcical nature, everything is deliberate. Some filmmakers do this really well. Sober or hyper, these performances can succeed in eliciting laughter (in a good way, of course) if the calibration is perfect. Bro Daddy rides the thin line between hyper and sober. When two of its main characters are advertising professionals, why disguise its need to look like an ad, right? A world where everyone is constantly cheerful. A world where problems get smoothly resolved. A world where people can afford to buy expensive stuff. Nothing wrong with all that. We are, after all, living in difficult times, and escapist entertainment is the need of the hour. Bro Daddy is aiming for the same. I don't mind watching affluent characters, but I mind when a movie begins to overstretch the breezy tone.
Bro Daddy has a few instances that genuinely made me laugh and smile. These involve either Mohanlal-Prithviraj (the scene where an 'urgent matter' is brought up over a phone call) or Mohanlal-Mallika Sukumaran (when the mother senses something amiss) or Prithviraj-Kalyani Priyadarshan (the 'shocking' news). If we didn't know that Mohanlal and Prithviraj play father and son in Bro Daddy, we would've assumed that their respective characters, John and Eesho Kattadi, are brothers. The significance of the film's title becomes clear when we get a sense of their dynamic. They usually address each other by their first name except for a rare instance or two where Eesho addresses John as 'appa'.
But in a 160-min film, it's disappointing to see the best bits constituting maybe around 30 mins. Everything else is just... flat. Some of the jokes made at the expense of Eesho (Jesus) gets tiresome after a certain point. Sure, a modicum of comfort is to be found in seeing two of our favourite actors having fun, but that doesn't necessarily translate to us having fun. The garish visual style -- the interiors seem straight out of the IKEA catalogue -- and Deepak Dev's mismatched music dilute the experience to a great extent. Also, I was baffled at the decision to incorporate strange musical effects in a few places. For example, in one scene, when a comical spaghetti western tune plays in the background, I pondered the relevance. In another, a 'dishum dishum' effect made me scratch my head. Extremely jarring choices, these. And when Soubin Shahir's over-the-top shenanigans are added to the mix, what we get is something that I would've probably enjoyed as a kid, not now. I mean, why was such an incredibly talented actor assigned a role like this? Fortunately, it's not as bad as the one he did in Irul.
Of course, a movie wouldn't be a movie without a central conflict. Bro Daddy has one too, so as to avoid getting tagged a 160-min ad. However, by the time we get to it, it's a bit hard to take it seriously, regardless of Lalu Alex's convincing performance. There is no sense of this conflict being an insurmountable obstacle for Eesho, John or Anna (a suitably restrained Kalyani Priyadarshan). Perhaps the idea is to put the audience at ease, but then, why introduce a conflict that cannot be taken seriously in the first place?
Maybe I expected a lot from a filmmaker who wowed me with the craft in his directorial debut. (I let out a chuckle when Bro Daddy opened with a scene that seemed straight out of Lucifer, but with a totally different outcome.) The expectation with Bro Daddy was a simple laugh-out-loud entertainer, not another Lucifer. It's been four hours since I watched Bro Daddy, but unlike Lucifer, I've already forgotten most of it. Now that's the kind of situation I don't like being in.