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Review: Yo, 'Bro,' be careful who you hang with

Nick Parada's cautionary tale about thugdom doesn't lack for the loose energy of sinfulness, but the cliched platitudes and the wide gulf in acting quality brings it down, man.

June 22, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • Danny Trejo in "Bro."
Danny Trejo in "Bro." (Bro LLC. )

The SoCal indie "Bro" sends its college-age protagonist, Johnny (Will Chavez), tumbling into seductive illegality with the efficiency of those Direct TV commercials that paint exaggerated worst-case scenarios for cable customers.

In this case, it'd be, "When you ask out the cute girl at the gym, you go to her tattooed brother's motocross practice. When you go to motocross practice, you party with gang members who ply you with easy women and drugs. When you cavort with easy women and take drugs …" and before you can blink, Johnny is a straight-up hoodlum.

Writer-director-producer Nick Parada's cautionary tale doesn't lack for the loose energy of sinfulness, preferring the thrill of rap-scored vice to the after-school-special morality stuff, represented here mostly by clichéd platitudes spouted by adults. The open wail of tragedy is not this movie's bag. But a wide gulf in acting quality is — there's the casually effective (Danny Trejo and Larry Fessenden along the criminal margins) and the hopelessly amateurish (real motocross star Beau Manley as Johnny's temptor Jesse).

Moon-faced puppy dog Chavez, meanwhile, never catches up to Johnny's instantaneous thugdom, which gives his just-as-quick reversion to innocence at the end a regrettably laughable there's-no-place-like-home vibe.

"Bro." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. At AMC Orange 30, Orange.

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