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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr.

Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM - 2005
Mosaic Media Group / Dimension Films / Summit Entertainment / The Weinstein Company / Reforma Films
Rated: Australia: M / Canada: 14A - G - PG / Finland:K-11 / Hong Kong: IIB / Netherlands, Czech Republic: 12 / Singapore: PG / USA: PG-13

A mother tends to her sick daughter, holding her while the older son fidgets helplessly. The youngest boy, a book reader and therefore smart will return soon. He went to trade the cow for money for his sister's medicine. Except he returns with something he thinks is magical instead.

15 years later, a frightened man tells an incredible tale of Horror to a believing court. All are worried over the very idea that a witch of fearsome power has come to their hamlet. All, except for two men: The Brothers Grimm. In a primitive, superstitious, backward world without the simplest of modern conveniences (for that time) like plumbing and hygene, the entire world is a fearsome place filled with Gods, Demons, and greater and lesser angels and imps. A sword can be a living thing. A tree can be offended. The Brothers Grimm have none of this, but will pretend they do, and thus they make their living, moving from town to town like twin tent show John Edwards, but with a definite Superhero bent. Their exorcisms of various people and buildings are all flummery of course. The Brothers Grimm are con artists.

The salesman of the two is Wilhelm Grimm (Matt Damon: SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, DOGMA, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY). He overwhelms the frightened villagers and their elders with seemingly inarguable knowledge of the ways of curses, witches, demons, and other ilk of the negative supernatural realm.

The knowledgeable of the two is Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger: THE ORDER). While Wilhelm regales the frighten folk with the derring deeds he must do, Jacob runs through his volumes, which impress the illiterate people, and throws out key words for his brother to expound upon: the possible demons and potential battles they may be called upon to perform at a moment's notice. All of this carries a crippling price for the townships, of course. But though the price is a sacrifice, isn't sacrifice worth it to protect the good people of your village?

The Brothers Grimm don't wait for a curse to manifest itself of a village. They create it with two hidden compatriots who dress in scary costumes and use magician tricks to begin the "Demonic infestation" in the minds of the fearful. In the nick of time, The Brothers Grimm appear.

It's a fun way to start the tale as the brothers come off as lovable rogues. But this is 1812 and the French have occupied much of Germany. It isn't long before the brothers run afoul of the invading French government and their desire to bring education and enlightenment to the barbaric Germans (whether there was ever a real French governor who pursued this agenda is beside the point. This is a work of fiction, right?). The governor is Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce: THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL) and his henchman is the evil Italian, Cavaldi (Peter Stormare: THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, 8MM, MINORITY REPORT). As enlightened as the governor believes he is, he isn't above using gruesome forms of torture left over from the days of the Spanish Inquisition (actually, Europe suffered through many blood thirsty Inquisitions, all in the name of preserving superstitious belief). Delatombe despises the Brothers and their criminal ways, but he has a use for them. A certain German village believes themselves to be under attack by supernatural forces, and the Grimm Brothers - I mean, the Brothers Grimm, had nothing to do with it. If the brothers will go into the town, do their little song and dance, and convince the people that the evil is gone, Delatombe will set the brothers free.

So the brothers go to the hamlet, where young girls have been disappearing, meet a damsel (Lena Headey: THE CAVE, 300) in somewhat less than distress, and ... Merry Mishaps occur.

Like all movies by Terry Gilliam, The Brothers Grimm is distrustful of the culture of reason, and elevates belief in superstition and fear. Throughout his film career, Terry seems to believe that superstition, even in its most negative forms, is still preferable to clear thought and critical thinking. THE BROTHERS GRIMM continue this idea.

Wilhelm, the flashy pitchman who doesn't believe what he preaches, shouts, "Magic beans, Jacob!" whenever his younger brother gets out of line. The quiet, bookish Jacob, however, still believes in magic, he just hasn't found it yet. Reality is turned on its head, of course, when the brothers run into a very real, very old, wicked witch (Monica Bellucci: DRACULA [1992], THE MATRIX: RELOADED, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS) who is the seed from which so many German ghost stories grew.

In THE BROTHERS GRIMM, character development is thin, while the CGI factor is high. Terry knows how to develop characters as he so ably proved in movies like TIME BANDITS and BRAZIL. But since Baron Von Munchausen, Terry threw out his characters in exchange for flash and special effects (exceptions being THE FISHER KING and 12 MONKEYS).

All said though, these are adult concerns. The kid in me enjoyed THE BROTHERS GRIMM very much. The walking trees, the forest enshrouded castle, the woodsman and his painful transition to monster, the ginger-mud man, as well as the fun interplay between Wilhelm and Jacob and even the vile Cavaldi.

Such inventive and wonderful imagination comes from screenwriter, Ehren Kruger (SCREAM 3, IMPOSTOR, THE RING, THE RING 2, THE SKELETON KEY) who seems to have directed his career toward breathing new life into worn-out tales. The wicked are punished, except for those who rediscover their humanity and find salvation. The French, long the smart ass'r than thou of Terry Gilliam films, get theirs. Unlike many of Gilliam's films, THE BROTHERS GRIMM is not meant to be a thinker, but a funner.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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