Dax Shepard delivers an I’m Still Here-style mockumentary of staggering incompetence with Brother’s Justice, a faux-verité account of his gung-ho efforts to reposition himself as a martial-arts star that’s distinguished by both a punishing lack of laughs and embarrassing before-they-were-A-listers cameos from Jon Favreau and Bradley Cooper. For no apparent reason, Shepard decides to pitch the titular action vehicle—which is inspired by ’80s Chuck Norris sagas, and involves a motorcycle gang, crystal meth, and siblings fighting their way down a mountain—to thoroughly uninterested execs with help from his producing partner, Nate Tuck, who in a recurring joke is always stuck paying for the project’s expenses. That’s just about the only running thread throughout this fiasco (directed by Shepard and David Palmer), which says absolutely nothing about either comedian’s desire to tackle more serious-minded roles or the industry’s torturously meeting-heavy creative process, but does manage to speak volumes about Shepard’s humorlessness.
Playing like a half-assed lark that was made on weekends and during downtime from actual big-screen jobs, Brother’s Justice meanders about without any sense of purpose, quickly resorting to incessant profanity and homophobic slurs (for which Shepard is repeatedly chastised), appearances by Tom Arnold and Shepard’s Punk’d cohort, Ashton Kutcher, and tediously monotonous fake-movie trailers to pad out its inert plot. Mostly shot in 2006, the action also includes a few stale Viagra jokes, as well as Shepard appearing at the Teen Choice Awards and on Last Call with Carson Daily in karate uniforms, not to mention dully bragging about how much physically tougher he is than fellow big-screen funny men Vince Vaughn and Jim Carrey.
Yet no matter the scene, the star is consistently incapable of crafting an amusing scenario or dropping a witty one-liner, with his off-the-cuff story only proving how difficult it can be to successfully pull off improvisatory comedy. Neither straight-up witty nor cleverly self-referential, the film is an interminable goof-off that, aiming to make fun of Shepard’s chop-socky dreams, instead merely confirms his lameness as an unscripted comedian.