By Samir Mathur
Contributing writer
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For all my Film Festival coverage, look for the tag FFF2012

THE BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST plays in the 21st annual Florida Film Festival today (4/14) at 9.45pm at Regal Winter Park Village and again on Tuesday (Details)

Here's an unusual one. The first twenty minutes of the film show main character Alex's life slowly fall apart - he gets kicked out of his band, dumped, and fired from two different jobs - one for getting into an argument with Wilmer Valderrama from That 70s Show, and the other for attacking a mentally handicapped child. Though that first act had some pretty funny moments, it still felt rather heavy in the "establish that the guy is a sad-sack" department.

But then Alex meets Jim, a big ol' bag of energy, who first attacks him in a park, and then convinces him to tour the country together. Despite Alex's protest that the name "sounds like a 70s black soul band", The Brooklyn Brothers are born. Along the way, they pick up a girl, play a frat house, and it's a fun road trip to watch. It quickly becomes clear that Jim is pretty nuts, though, so that gives the whole thing an extra edge. The funniest scene in the film involves the band getting a gig at a huge-looking venue on the basis of a little white lie. The film gives Jim a dark back story, and lets us in on Alex's complicated family life, to lessen the fun, whimsical vibe, and I'm not sure that those serious elements are entirely effective.

The music, which was specifically written for the film, and described as "the Shins meet Sesame Street" is excellent throughout. Even though the quiriness factor is pretty high, which is a real turn-off for me, I was won over by the end of the film. The interplay between writer/director Ryan O'Nan as Alex, Michael Weston (channelling Charlie Kelly) as Jim, and Winter Park's own Arielle Kebbel as the band's de facto road manager, is really strong, and I ended up I rather enjoying it. It has shades of 'The Happy Poet', which won the Grand Jury Award last year, so give The Brooklyn Brothers a chance.