Bob Odenkirk, Will Arnett and Will Forte create comedy gold on the set of their new movie
Recently we had the comic pleasure of visiting the set of Brothers Solomon, a new film directed by Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk and starring Will Arnett (of Arrested Development fame) and Will Forte (Saturday Night Live).
It should surprise nobody that Brothers Solomon is a comedy. This film pits together Forte and Arnett as socially handicapped brothers who, in trying to satisfy the dying wish of their father (Lee Majors), do everything in their power to give him a grandchild. Due to the Brothers Solomon's ineptness in social situations and just about everything else, many funny circumstances befall them as they make their way in their quest. Things take a more interesting turn when they find Janine (Kristen Wiig) via the website Craigs List, and it seems like she might be able to bear a child for them.
"We're having a great time." States director Bob Odenkirk as he settles into his chair to discuss the film. He then brings up some scenes that they already shot on a monitor. One features the brothers going to a sperm bank and choosing from a wide assortment of magazines with which to pleasure themselves. Odenkirk has seemingly let the actors go giving them free reign to experiment and try new material in each take.
After this, he puts on another scene where the Brothers have gone to an adoption agency. This scene is especially interesting because Odenkirk plays the person that is interviewing them in order to determine what kind of parental candidates they'd make. Things go from bad to worse for our main characters when they ask about a "return policy" on adopted children. Later on in the same take, they state their preference for a child with "lighter skin" and "rounder eyes."
"We're not gonna use that... I was just letting them go." Odenkirk says.
The final scene he lets us see is one where Forte and Arnett are confronted by Chi McBride who plays Janine's boyfriend. This scene would be funny simply because McBride is so imposing but the three of them play really well off of one another. McBride's character can't believe that these two guys are as stupid as they are, while Forte and Arnett can't help but say things to make the situation even worse for themselves.
Odenkirk then proceeds to say that the work being done on Brothers Solomon is "as good as Mr. Show." When asked how he got involved with the project, he says that the screenplay (which also happens to be written by Will Forte) was "great," and that everyone else in the cast from Kristen Wigg ("amazing" Odenkirk declares) to Chi McBride are really "solid" in terms of their acting and comedic abilities.
The scene we are watching today is actually the pivotal moment that sends the Brothers Solomon on their journey. They have just rushed into a hospital room where their father lays in a coma. After arguing with the doctor over how long ago he slipped into his coma (a very funny exchange), the Brothers banter back and forth until the doctor informs them of their father's wish for them to provide him with a grandchild.
As a director Bob Odenkirk seems to know what he wants yet at the same time he has created an atmosphere to maximize the comedic possibilities. He is shooting very long takes between the actors and as such everything seems more fluid. It is as if he has done everything he can to set up the situation and now he leaves it to Will Arnett and Will Forte to do their magic. One doesn't get the feeling of constraint or the "science project" vibe that most movie sets have. Yes, there are a bunch of people around making sure the lighting is fine, putting the film in the cameras, "checking the gate" as they say, but overall I am really impressed with how much actual shooting is taking place.
In between takes, Odenkirk will reconvene with the actors as they discuss the scene. As Brothers Solomon is a comedy, the main goal seems to be to try and give themselves as many options as possible in editing. Yet, despite how funny it is, the Brothers Solomon seems like a film that isn't just going for easy laughs. The brothers may act stupid and the situations they find themselves in are highly strange, but there is a real passion behind all the motivations and various riffs the actors are doing with their characters. It is this kind of passion that has the set the work of Bob Odenkirk, Will Forte and Will Arnett apart from many of today's contemporary funny people.
Please check back as we are going to have interviews with Bob Odenkirk, Will Forte and Will Arnett discussing Brothers Solomon.