Welcome to the first of what’s bound to be a legendary
 series of articles. I have awesome taste in movies.  
Some of them, everyone loves, like “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Django
Unchained”, and of course “Drive
Angry“. Others are less well known, like “Safety 
Not Guaranteed”, “Dirty Work”, and of course “Drive Angry”.
  This series of what’s bound to be a legendary succession of
 articles will focus on those lesser known movies, and me trying to
 convince you to see them. With no further ado’s, let me
 introduce you to “Brooklyn 
Brothers Beat The Best“.

[youtube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXyog8dyO7w]

The Brooklyn Brothers 
has been an important and transformational movie for myself, and my
 fellow state lines co-founder Adam. In fact, you can even give the movie at least
 partial credit for the existence of this website. There is a 
punk rock mentality to not only the plot of the film, but also how 
it was made, all the way down to the DVD packaging. I hope 
that if you read this, my love for it will come through in my 
words. And, I truly hope you seek it out and try to watch
 it. You can find it on iTunes, or on Amazon, but as of this 
writing it is not yet on Netflix.   So… Who are the Brooklyn
 Brothers? They are Alex and Jim, an unlikely folk/baby
toy/punk band from Brooklyn and New Jersey. But we’re getting
 ahead of ourselves.  If you truly want to know who The
 Brooklyn Brothers are, we have to start at the beginning of the
 movie (Oh, and by the way.  Spoiler alert.  But what’s to
 spoil, really? It’s a road trip buddy movie.  They make 
it to where they’re trying to get, and they learn some stuff on the
 way).

It all starts in a bathroom. The crappy kind of
 bathroom, at a dive bar in Brooklyn somewhere. Alex is hiding 
in one of the stalls, legs pulled up to his chest clutching a 
letter close and reading it with sad eyes.  It’s a classic
 “Dear
 John” letter. And if you’re following along, yes, 
it is a “Dear John” letter on the john.  Sitting in front of
 Alex is his guitar case, which he’s had since he was young.
  On that guitar case is a sticker of an alien with a talk bubble
 saying “I’m gonna rock your world.”  The talk bubble is 
scratched out by a red pen, and written next to it, in that same
 pen, is something I don’t want to type.  It’s the kind of 
thing kids write to make fun of the weird kid in class. 
 The alien.  Alex’s despair is interrupted when someone knocks 
on the door and says “Are you ready Garfunkel?”

Dear John on the john

Dear John on the john

The next scene is the first of many musical moments 
in the movie.  Alex is playing acoustic guitar on a stage next
 to some d-bag playing an electric. He’s one of those d-bags
 who doesn’t know he’s a d-bag, so somehow he’s not a loser.
 We all know the type.  Anyway, Alex is strumming his guitar
 and letting some sad lyrics slide out into the room, gently hitting
 the ears of the one person watching them.  After the chorus, 
the d-bag gets a verse.  It’s obvious that the two men write 
separately, and then shoehorn the song together.  Because the
 d-bag starts singing about werewolf sex and zombies and other 
things that don’t make much sense.  The one listener promptly
 leaves. We then smash cut to Alex and the d-bag outside the 
bar, where the d-bag kicks Alex out of “the band.”  He doesn’t 
think Alex is any good, and remarks that it’s weird that he sings songs about moths.  This rejection is apparently a common
 theme for Alex, always unwanted, and left out.  He retreats to
 his room and plays and sings his sad songs, a scene which has to
 have played out multiple times for him.  And, for us, 
probably.  When the world crushes us, hopefully we all have 
that one place we can retreat to and totally be ourselves.  
Since this movie is about Alex, you know it will get better at some
point, but it has to get worse first.

Alex shows up to his soul
-crushing job (where he works for the awesome and underused Shooter
McGavin and with Wilmer
 Valderrama, in a hilarious cameo), and is quickly fired
 for his awful performance, and desire to leave early to play a
”gig”.  The good news is, he’s now free to play that “gig”, which turns out to be dressing up in a pink moose costume and
 playing music for mentally challenged kids.  Halfway through 
yet another sad song, one of the kids brutally attacks Alex with a 
knife.  Unbeknownst to Alex, and us, the knife is fake.
  So when Alex the musical moose defends himself by punching the
 handicapped kid, he is fired and asked to never return to the
 school.  He finds himself in Central Park, still in his 
costume, totally crushed and without a musical outlet.  He
 meets a young girl and has a philosophical question about life, and
 really what the movie thinks about life.  He wants to
 know how the little girl can like her life.  She’s happy 
because she likes to play.  And that’s just the problem, Alex,
 the musical moose, or weird rock n roll alien, has no place to 
play. Enter Jim.

Alex and Jim

Alex and Jim

Jim
 was the guy in the bar watching Alex play, and through a 
serendipitous moment, finds him in the park. And Jim is kind 
of crazy. Turns out he is a musician too.  His specialty
 is basically every baby toy ever made.  Small half Casio 
keyboards, bells, toy accordions, one of those keyboards you blow 
in to, and other bizarre instruments.  He tries to get Alex to 
play with him, but Alex is on the phone with his ex and not having 
it, so Jim does the only thing he can think, and throws a right 
cross that knocks out the poor musical moose.  He takes him
 back to his apartment and proceeds to lay out his plan.  It
 seems Jim, too, is recently band-less.  Before he was kicked
 out of his band, for being “too interesting” (which sounds better 
than too weird right? I think we’ve all felt that way) he 
plotted a tour that would cross the United States and end in 
California at a battle of the bands.  Rather than admit his
 life has crashed around him, Alex decides to try one more 
time.  Jim makes a very convincing argument.  He says
”we’re the scraps”.  They’re the alien and the baby toy
 expert.  They’re us, the weirdos.

They hit the road, unsure of what they’ll even sound like together. And from the
 moment they play their first note, it’s clear they are a
 match made in heaven.  As someone strictly talking about the 
movie, what they sound like is perfect for the narrative.  
They are weird, and they are outsiders.  Jim’s baby toys 
somehow give Alex’s sad lyrics a bit of levity. But speaking 
as a music lover, what they created is truly something fun and
 special.  Watch this.

[youtube
http://youtu.be/jyOeIuAFCpI?t=53s]

The movie chugs along at a good
 pace.  We’re treated to a ton of great musical moments. 
 There’s a funny Scott Weiland gag, they pick up a love interest
 (Cassidy) who becomes their manager, there’s a hilarious story 
about a dog named Jimmy Johnson that you simply have to hear to 
believe, Alex keeps obsessing over his letter, and the boys have 
some fun and grow closer.  Then comes the moment in all of 
these kinds of movies.  The moment where things go bad and the
 main character has a decision.  Press on, or revert to old 
ways.  The Brooklyn Brothers are deserted by their manager/the 
love interest, and she steals all their money leaving them 
penniless and unable to continue their trip.  They stop on the 
side of the road and play some music and try to earn some
 money.  Problem is, Alex says, no one is
 listening.  Alex is fed up and wants to quit.  Jim has a 
great moment that is another key to the film.  He says maybe people
 listening isn’t the point.  Which is infuriating to Alex,
 because what could possibly be the point of making music if not for 
people to hear?  Jim says “Maybe this is it.  I mean, you
 sing songs about Moths…”  This frustrates Alex, who has
 heard people complain about the moth lyrics before, but Jim
 continues. “I love moths! They’re ugly little worm creatures
 that crawl into their cocoons with promises of metamorphosizing
 into these beautiful butterflies.  But when they come out,
 they’re still ugly.  And now they’re blind, and they fly into
 lights and shit.  Those little dudes, they keep on 
trucking.  There are no free rides man, if we can’t handle 
roughing it a little and carving our way out of here like old
 Apache warriors, then what are we doing?  Cause it seems like
 right now, we are doing something most people will never do in 
their entire lives.”  Alex replies “I don’t think being 
homeless is a goal of most people.”  Jim says “I think it 
is.  I’m not saying drunk, starving, piss on yourself
 homeless.  I mean people that sit at their desk for 8 to 10 
hours a day, and then they sleep for 9 hours, and then they truly 
live their lives for, I don’t know, maybe 5 hours, I think those
 people would love being here.  They would love it.  Not
 knowing what’s coming around the corner, not knowing what’s next…  
They would love it.”

Alex doesn’t buy it.  Or is too chicken
 to buy it.  So he leaves Jim.  Jim says “How are we going
 to win the battle of the bands?  I can’t do it by 
myself.”  Alex replies saying  “We were never going to
 win.  We don’t win. ” and retreats to his older brother Brian’s suburban home.  There, we meet his young 10 year old 
nephew Jackson.  In Jackson, we get a glimpse at what a young
 Alex was like.  He’s smart, thoughtful, really in to monsters,
 and weird.  He sits alone at school because the other kids
 don’t understand him.  Most people don’t understand aliens
 after all.  We are then treated to one of my favorite musical
 moments of the movie.  Alex and Jackson write a song together 
from a monsters perspective.  See, monsters are so used to 
being hated by people, they instinctively try to push people
 away before they themselves have a chance to be rejected.  But 
the twist of the song is, this monster has finally met someone who 
isn’t afraid.  They look the monster in the eye, and take him
 for what he’s worth.  Alex is singing about Jackson, young 
Alex, and old Alex.  They are the monsters, the aliens, the
 musical moose, rejected by the world.  In Jim, Alex has found 
someone who is a kindred spirit.  Another alien and
 weirdo.  He just hasn’t really realized it yet.  It isn’t
until Cassidy tracks Alex down and tells them Jim is in
 trouble.  His grandfather passed away, but as a tribute, Jim 
is still planning on playing the battle of the bands by
 himself.  And the worst part is, the portion of the show he’s 
scheduled to play in is the death metal portion.  Those guys
 will rip him apart after one look at the baby toys.  It’s at 
this point that Alex finally realizes something. And he gives 
a speech to his brother that sums up the movie.

“Brian, need your 
car.  For the last year and a half I have been dressing up in 
a skin tight pink moose fleece.  And playing music in front of 
preschools, and nursing homes, and half way houses, and 
classrooms full of violent, knife wielding mentally handicapped
 people.  And I’ve also been working at a very low rung real 
estate office in which I’ve experienced some of the most gross,
 soul crushing mediocrity a person can experience.  But I do
 it, because for one day a week, for about twenty minutes, I get to
 get up on stage in front of six, seven people… At the most!  And play my stupid little songs.  And to tell you the complete
 honest truth, as pathetic as it might seem…  It fills me.  
And I’ve only met one other person in my entire life like that.”

Alex makes it to the show, but they don’t get in.  The
 bouncers violently eject Jim giving him a bloody lip.  Alex
 and Jim then retreat to the outside steps to lick their wounds, 
along with all the other oddly dressed people unable to get in to
 see the death metal bands.  Alex hands over the Dear John note 
that he’s been obsessed with, and lets Jim use it as a 
napkin (A not so subtle sign that he is ready to let go of 
his past). Alex then tells Jim to look around.  He says  
”This is it.  Look at these people.  They’re the
 scraps.”  Jim says  “You’re right.  If you think about it,
 if the battle was about them getting to play for this weird ass 
group of people, then we totally won”.  Alex agrees “I mean,
 that’s just.. Math.”  Then The Brooklyn Brothers play one last 
set, on the steps outside of the battle of the bands, for the
 scraps.  That’s how the movie ends.  With Alex, and us,
 realizing that it’s ok to be weird.  It’s ok to be that alien
 on Alex’s guitar case.  In life, we just need to find those 
kindred spirits, the one’s who really get who we are.  And go 
for it.  Trust in yourself to make something different, and
 awesome.  Don’t wait for it to be given to you, because you’ll 
wait forever. The world is full of people who do the same
 thing every day, and the world is ready for you to try something
different.

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About The Author

Jarrett Haas

Jarrett is co-founder of State-Lines.com, owner of Rule8Media.com, awesome videographer at RelevantChurch.com, creator, dreamer, and all around dude.

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