Connor Del Rio (left) stars as Asher and Luis Gerardo Mendez (right) stars as Renato in “Half Brothers” (Photo Credit: John Golden Britt/Focus Features).
‘Half Brothers’ Not Quite on Mount Rushmore of Brotherly Films
“Half Brothers” will pleasantly surprise the cynics.
In the hierarchy of films about “brothers,” there is “Step Brothers,” “The Brothers” and “Four Brothers” to name a few.
So, there is no way that “Half Brothers” will make it onto the Mount Rushmore of brotherly films.
However, “Half Brothers” is more than halfway decent combining s0me laughs with some heart to create a hybrid type film that has elements of “Step Brothers” with elements of “The Brothers.”
In “Half Brothers,” Young Renato (Ian Inigo) and Flavio (Juan Pablo Espinosa) do not have the typical father and son relationship.
Although Renato is still just a little lad, he and his father are best friends.
Flavio and Renato play with remote control and model airplanes.
They play practical jokes on others and run off just like two little schoolchildren trying not to get caught by a teacher or a principal.
Renato and Flavio even have their own special whistle that they use to communicate with each other.
Despite the closeness of the two, Flavio still tries to teach his son life lessons and the value of hard work and perseverance.
However, Flavio’s lessons rarely come from lecturing or scolding Renato.
Instead, Flavio likes to teach his son by using riddles, which forces Renato to think about the lessons that Flavio is trying to teach as opposed to preaching down to his child like some parents like to do.
Flavio’s family lives the good life with very few cares in the world.
They live well.
They eat well.
The family also plays well.
But what goes up always comes down and the family is not immune from the harsh realities of life.
When the Mexican economy tanks and the value of the peso plummets, Flavio has to leave his family behind and search for work in the United States.
Although Flavio does not want to leave his wife Tere (Bianca Marroquin) and son, as a man he cannot sit idly by and watch his loved-ones starve to death because of the struggling Mexican economy.
Therefore, the proud Mexican engineer accepts “slave wages” as a day laborer in America, making pennies on the dollar because employers can pay undocumented workers much less than they would have to pay American citizens.
Although Flavio misses his family, everything that he does in America is with the intention of making money and making it back to his family in Mexico.
However, that never happens and the close bond that Renato felt towards his father quickly turns into wrath and anger.
He does not even like thinking of Flavio as his father.
Renato tries to wipe the man, once his best friend, completely out of his memory.
But like most childhood trauma, the pain of the past often rears its ugly head at the worst times in life.
Even without his father, Renato has turned into more than a productive citizen.
Just like Flavio, he uses his talents to become a successful engineer.
Renato even owns his own aviation company, a mansion and soon will have his own wife and stepson.
But right before his wedding, Renato gets a call from a woman in the United States saying that his father is very ill and would like to see his son one last time.
Although Renato (Luis Gerardo Mendez) obviously does not want to travel to the United States because he hates his father and the arrogance of Americans (like always speaking in English very slowly so foreigners will comprehend and thinking that all Mexico consists of is zip lines and Cancun), he goes anyway after his fiancé insists that he does.
Renato only plans to stay in the United States a short time because he needs to get back to Mexico for his wedding.
But what he discovers in America will make him question everything that he thought about his family and puts his upcoming nuptials in extreme jeopardy.
Even though Renato has basically no time for Flavio, the sick father has one wish for his son.
He wants for him to go through this scavenger hunt of riddles that will help Renato understand his old man and the reasons for him not returning to Mexico.
Renato reluctantly agrees to make a few stops on the scavenger hunt.
But to make matters worse, Renato has to go with Asher (Connor del Rio), a younger man who has almost nothing in common with the older Renato.
While Renato is all work and no play, Asher is no work and all play.
Unfortunately, Asher is Renato’s only transportation for the scavenger hunt so finishing the hunt and getting back to Mexico to say “I do” might not happen.
What follows changes “Half Brothers” from “The Brothers” to “Step Brothers.”
“Half Brothers” is part comedy thanks to the man-child, Asher.
But it is also a heartfelt family drama thanks to Flavio and Renato’s troubled relationship.
Renato has a problem respecting his father because he does not really know what it means to be a parent yet.
Sure, he has a future stepson in Emilio.
But he has not really had to be the full-time dad yet, making decisions that impact others as much as it impacts himself.
When Renato begins to see what Flavio had to deal with it, he might actually become more sympathetic to his father and more empathetic to his stepson.
Unfortunately, “Half Brothers” has too many sophomoric scenes that seem like a rip-off of “The Hangover” or something.
But regardless, “Half Brothers” is not half bad and that’s a pleasant surprise.