Obviously already having mastered everything there is in the world of comedy, Dax Shepard set out to be an action hero.
That's kind of the one and only joke in Brother's Justice, a mockumentary about Dax's stab at breaking out of the ninth-billed-guy-in-B-list-comedies bracket and making it big as a Chuck Norris/Steven
Seagal/JCVD type. Since there's not exactly a line of directors wrapped around the block aching to cast him as a lead in their next action flick, Dax wrangles his producing partner, Nate Tuck, into self-financing their own: Brother's Justice! The plan is that Dax'll take the reins as Lance Justice, a martial arts expert whose brother was kidnapped by a crystal meth-slinging biker gang and dragged up to Lake Tahoe. Lance has to bust his brother out and, together, fight their way down the mountain through a battalion of bikers. They have an idea, they have a little money, and now all they need is...well, everything else. But hey, Dax knows people. They need a bankable actor to play Lance's brother, so Dax hits up his old boss from Punk'd, Ashton Kutcher. They need a director, so they drop in on Jon Favreau. They need advice from a guy who's made the leap from comedy-to-action-flicks, and having a direct line to James Cameron wouldn't hurt, so they chat up True Lies' Tom Arnold. Kind of a drag for Dax that none of them share his vision, maybe because he's a kind of lanky dude with no martial arts experience and hasn't actually gotten around to writing a script. So, with his producer throwing out a kinda endless stack of checks along the way, Dax sets out to resculpt himself into the action hero he might have always dreamed he could be.
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If your kneejerk reaction to that first sentence up top was "Dax who?", then I can save you a little time and tell you not to bother with Brother's Justice. Part of the big gag is "that guy as an action hero?!", and if you don't know who that guy is, then it's gonna be even less funny for you than it was for me. Gotta have a point of reference for anything here to even have a chance of landing. Still, though, even if you know and kinda like Dax Shepard, Brother's Justice is...kinda terrible. It's a one-joke movie, mistaking "Dax is a clueless, racist, homophobic, egomaniacal prick" for a sense of humor. The mockumentary never gets around to weaving gags around all that. Someone'll tell Dax as gently as they can how terrible an idea this movie is and how poorly suited he is to be an action hero, and he'll call them a fag or something. It's not that I'm offended by that sort of thing, but...I mean, there's no joke there. It's just Dax pretending to be a dick, and that's pretty much all Brother's Justice is. I had kind of the same reaction I did with Bruno a while back, where it's just kind of excruciating to watch a guy be a raging asshole for an hour and a half. At least Bruno had more inspired dick/fart/ass jokes. Brother's Justice has no shortage of 'em but doesn't aim all that high. No laughs. Shaky improv. Kinda terrible turns by the not-seasoned-actors in front of the camera. Super-slow pace. Even the genre spoofs of Dax's other attempts at breaking out of the comedy ghetto sputter and fail. Aargh. Skip It.
Brother's Justice is an independent flick shot completely on the cheap, and they didn't really have the budget to pony up for whatever high-def cameras were bleeding-edge back in 2006. So, yeah, don't expect reference quality video or anything. Some tighter shots do wind up looking pretty great, but overall, Brother's Justice is softer and more lacking in detail than most anything you're likely to stumble upon on Blu-ray. Doesn't look like there was much in the way of color correction either, and some shots -- especially early on -- look kinda pink and sickly. Then again, color and contrast are even wonkier on DVD, but...hey! Don't take my word for it. I snapped screenshots. Pop these suckers open to full size if you want a direct comparison. Strictly in terms of detail or whatever, the difference really isn't all that dramatic.
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So anyway, nothin' that great. Brother's Justice is served up on a single layer Blu-ray disc, and the (mostly) 1.78:1 video has been encoded with AVC. The DVD in the set is presented in anamorphic widescreen, the same as you'd expect.
Sorry, kids! No lossless audio this time around, although even if there were, I don't think it would've wound up sounding much different than this Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps) track. It's a homebrew mockumentary, so the sound design really isn't all that ambitious. There are some really light atmospheric effects in the surround channels, like crickets chirping at the dead of night. Pretty much dead otherwise. The score sometimes coaxes a bit of a rattle from the subwoofer. Otherwise, Brother's Justice is pretty much wall-to-wall dialogue. It's just that the recording sometimes sounds a little hollow, and there's one scene where the mic is waaaaaaaaay too far back. Okay. Not great.
The only other audio option is Dolby Digital stereo track (192kbps). No subs.
- Audio Commentary: Dax Shepard, Nate Tuck, and co-director David Palmer hop in front of the mic for this commentary track. It's chatty and everything, but I didn't really find myself scribbling down
all that many highlights. They spend a lot of time pointing out how much of this was grounded in reality: Tuck's habit of reading scripts with his shirt off in a public park, Tom Arnold's heated bickering with Dax, that the batshit insane talk show and award appearances really did happen just like that, and bringing in their real friends and agents and stuff. Probably goes without saying that dicks 'n buttholes get a lot of airtime. This is me shrugging. It's okay.
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- Deleted Scenes (14 min.; HD): A big chunk of these deleted scenes are just a few additional lines of dialogue. There are a few scenes-in-the-sense-of-y'know-scenes, though, with the longest of the bunch swirling around Seth Green. He's all over co-starring in Brother's Justice, but he's not exactly onboard with the cosplay or whatever that Dax wants to use as part of the studio pitch. Nate Tuck also endures a little more torment, exploitation, and embarrassment in a couple of the other scenes that manage to break a minute in length.
- Drillin' Deep (8 min.; HD): That...I don't know, The Beverly Hillbillies-meets-Thriller: A Cruel Picture period piece mash-up is served up in full here.
- Trailer (2 min.; HD): Last up is a two minute trailer.
....and in case you weren't paying attention earlier, the other disc in the set is a DVD of Brother's Justice.
The Final Word
Dax Shepard says at the tailend of his audio commentary that he made Brother's Justice for an audience that pretty much begins and ends with...well, Dax Shepard, and he didn't really expect anyone else to like it. So, I guess he won't be crushed or anything when I say that I really, really didn't. Sorry. Skip It.
I Guess I Snapped Way Too Many Screencaps