Frustrated teenage boys are apt to dream up elaborate fantasies about gaining all the power they don’t have. The dream factory that is cinema has now enabled the sibling filmmakers Jonathan and Josh Baker to bring one such fancy to the screen. In “Kin,” Eli (Myles Truitt), the 14-year-old adopted son of the hard-working Man of Integrity Hal (Dennis Quaid, seemingly angling to play Harrison Ford’s younger brother in a future film), finds an unusual weapon in an abandoned warehouse.
Is it from space? From the future? Whatever it is, it can blow holes through walls. Because Eli’s a good kid, he doesn’t go vengeful. He’s instead swept up on a road trip with his bad-boy older brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor, eager to answer any “get me a Chris Pratt-type” call) who’s reneged on a $60,000 debt to some thugs.
The head baddie is played by James Franco. Mr. Franco achieved a funny parody of postmodern gangsterism in the 2013 film “Spring Breakers,” but, trying to play a more authentic variant of the type, he’s laughably weak.
“Where’s Zoë Kravitz?” I wondered 45 minutes in, since she’s prominently billed in the opening credits. Oh, there she is. Playing a stripper. In a strip club where there’s no nudity, because the fabulous Baker boys and their backers felt the need to keep things PG-13. It’s at this juncture that Eli first gets to pull out his weapon. The visual effects are reasonably snazzy.
In the hands of more playful creators, this adolescent fantasy could have been fun. (Unfortunately, the 1978 cheesefest “Laserblast,” which has a very similar premise to “Kin,” was a whiff.) But “Kin” is insufferable, self-seriously combining shut-in nerdiness with wannabe macho pyrotechnics. It’s Bro Cinema in all the worst imaginable senses of the term.
Rated PG-13 for violence and language. But not to worry, the strip club scene is chaste. Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes.