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Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM

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'Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best': Half of duo steals this gig

A movie review of "Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best," an agreeable little road movie starring director Ryan O'Nan as a nihilistic songwriter, Arielle Kebbel as his manager and Michael Weston, in a standout performance, as his partner.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best,' with Michael Weston, Ryan O'Nan, Arielle Kebbel. Written and directed by O'Nan. 97 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains profanity). SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.

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Some indie films act like magnets for veteran character actors who don't mind playing cameo roles.

For instance, "Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best," an agreeable little road movie, features Christopher McDonald, who disappears after the first 15 minutes, and Melissa Leo, a recent supporting-actress Oscar winner ("The Fighter"), who turns up in one of the last scenes. She shares it with Andrew McCarthy, a onetime teen actor ("Pretty in Pink"), who is now emphatically an adult.

The road-movie format allows them to shine briefly, while the leading roles are played by lesser-known performers. Ryan O'Nan, who wrote and directed the picture, also has the starring role: Alex, a nihilistic songwriter who is managed by Cassidy (Arielle Kebbel), a flake who may not have his best interests at heart.

Their scenes together suggest a more serious version of "Flight of the Conchords," with Kebbel doing a tricky variation on Alex's No. 1 fan (and sometimes only fan). Does she really see something in him? Or is she using him to escape small-town boredom and demonstrate her networking skills?

Alex dresses up as a pink moose who writes "little death songs" that are "sad but interesting" and sound like a mixture of The Shins and Sesame Street. He has such limited musical talents that his commercial appeal is always in question.

But the movie is essentially a showcase for Michael Weston, who plays Alex's pushy partner, Jim, a self-taught musician who specializes in impromptu monologues and charismatic riffs that come in handy whenever they find themselves in tight situations.

If you caught Weston's performance as a possessive meth addict in "Six Feet Under," his ability to take over a showy role won't be a surprise. Once more he's riveting, and while the movie itself is an uneven, sometimes preachy affair, it's alive with possibilities whenever he's on screen.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com

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