Movie Review: “7 Chinese Brothers”

brothersJason Schwartzman may be a little old for the part, but there’s something of a “voice of his generation” spin to his role in “7 Chinese Brothers.”

Larry, his character, is sarcastic, smart and utterly disgruntled. Nothing works out for him, which may be why he’s become Every Employer’s Nightmare.

He steals from the tip jars and the bar at the Buca di Beppo restaurant where he works. And when he’s fired, he promptly keys the car of a colleague who made his life tough there.

He mocks the application form at the Quick Lube joint where he applies next. Lupe (Eleanor Pienta), the cashier, is immune to his charms.

“Cannot BELIEVE you guys hired me,” he cracks. “Has anyone ever gotten fired on the first day?”

Once employed, he’s instantly bullied into stealing change from customer’s cars

Larry drinks almost constantly, visits his equally smart-mouthed granny (Olympia Dukakis) and cadges drugs off his pal, an orderly/nurse there (Tunde Adebimpe).

His most profound conversations are with his French bulldog, and through them, we pick up on his intelligence and just the sort of limited expectations the world offers somebody like him in this race-to-the-bottom economy.

Bob “Somebody Up There Likes Me” Byington’s film is random and silly and very short. Like Tunde Adebimpe’s debut film, “Jump Tomorrow,” the only word that sums it up is “twee.”

But there’s a hint of profundity in the depiction of a brotherhood/sisterhood of minimum wage slaves — convenience store clerks who help you get the best deal on vodka, managers who cut you a break when hiring.

And for all that it doesn’t amount to, “7 Chinese Brothers” — And no, I didn’t catch what the title means. An REM song, apparently every bit as random as this. — Schwartzman gives this slight comedy enough juice to make it worth 75 minutes of your time.

2half-star6

MPAA Rating: unrated, with fisticuffs and profanity

Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Tunde Adebimpe, Eleanore Pienta, Olympia Dukakis, Stephen Root
Credits: Written and directed by Bob Byington. A Screen Media release.

Running time: 1:15

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