Thursday, March 19, 2015


Jason Schwartzman     Olympia Dukakis

            7 Chinese Brothers, written and directed by Bob Byington follows an unambitious man named Larry (Schwartzman) for a short period of time in his uninspiring life.  He gets fired from his job as a bartender after the owners film him skimming the liquor, and even after they allow him to swipe a bottle of tequila on the way out, he still resentfully keys one of their cars.  We see him take whatever he sees that he wants (candy outside a resident’s door at a senior living center) with impunity.  He visits his grandmother (Dukasis), his only living relative, from time to time, and she encourages him to make something of himself—although her suggestions are not especially helpful—but he is apparently happy doing whatever job he can get.  He is fortunate in being hired at a car wash soon after the bar.
            Some viewers will love to see Larry’s dog, an uncanny mirror of him—sleeping, snoring, snorting, and basically passive and lethargic.  The dog is highlighted in a number of scenes.  Larry has made one friend at his grandmother’s center, Norwood (Tunde Adebimpe), who is also his drug dealer and someone who pretends to be a doctor.  Other than these three, Larry has no relationships.  He makes a half-hearted effort to date a woman, but devalues her in comparison with the one his friend Norwood has ended up with, Larry’s current boss.
            There is really not much that happens in this film, except one turn of events, which is not all that surprising, and it is never clear how the title relates to the story.  I’m sure there are people who admire a “beat” lifestyle away from the “capitalist” world, and I think those might be the only ones who will appreciate this film.
            Schwartzman and Dukakis play roles similar to those they have before, and they are certainly good at what they do, but their talent cannot compensate for the emptiness of the script.

You are likely to be bored by 7 Chinese Brothers—whatever that refers to.

Grade:  F                        By Donna R. Copeland

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