(Release Date: August 26, 2005)
Folks, I'm kidding, I swear.
Let's face it, though, I had to see this movie, because of the simple fact that it was directed by one Terry Gilliam, a director so surreal he makes Cronenberg, Burton and Lynch look like Mann, Harlin and Bay! Yep, Gilliam is stranger than truth which, in turn, is stranger than fiction!
The Brothers Grimm is most assuredly a Gilliam flick, but it's not one of his best. His trademark humor and surprises are all over this film, as is the uncommon nether-worldly feel to the entire piece. Check it out:
During the Napoleonic Era, Matt Damon plays Good Will Grimm, who, along with his lil' bro', Heath Ledger's Jake Grimm, act as a couple of 18th Century Ghost Busters traveling with improbably prescient, prodigious and precocious weaponry (a la Wild Wild West or LXG) across a French-Occupied Germany in which everyone speaks with an English Accent. But then, everyone in Brazil was either English or American themselves, so methinks I'll quibble naught!
Of course, the ghost busting scheme is just that, and along with their two actor buddies, the Grimms play both threat and salvation in their cross-country protection racket. But when the French authorities, here represented by Jonathan Pryce's General Delatombe and Peter Stormare's delightfully sleezy mercenary Cavaldi, catch broken wind of the Brothers' modus operandi, the boys find out that there really are things that go bump in the night! While running scams and writing fairy tales about them brings one a fat purse, just waiting on the other side of the enchanted forest is the real deal Holifield!
What follows is a romping caper throughout a great many of the real Grimms' fairy tales, immediately recognizable to anyone whose parents read to them. And that's great fun, especially as almost every base is covered, by at least a whisper and a nod as the gang goes up against the Mirror Queen (played by Monica Bellucci and both her breasts). It's also refreshing to see two pretty boy actors like Damon and Ledger, who can act, getting realistically gritty and grimy and letting their acting shine through. Although, it should be noted that this isn't true for the female characters. Lena Headey's wilderness trapper Angelika is almost as impossibly beautiful as Monica Bellucci is. Still, the acting is all around pretty good, as are many of the special effects.
However, The Brothers Grimm is deeply flawed, and at times seems to almost turn into the brothers Ben Grimm in its wacky and lacking stabs at comedy. Strangely (for a Gilliam film) much of the obvious intended humor, and many of the obvious intended frights fall flatter than Callista Flockhart in the delivery and very little of the subtle, laugh-for-hours Gilliam is found here. What's more, there is an uncharacteristic predictability throughout the entire thread of the plot, leading to an ease of storytelling that transcends the work of the Grimms.
And, though the special effects are overall good, these, like the story, are just good enough to pass, and fill each others gaps with. It's sort of like using a fine silver cream cheese spreader as a steak knife. It's a good idea, and it looks pretty, but it just doesn't cut it.
Though this incompletion and overall close-but-no-cigar feel continues on into the closing credits, it should be noted that the final act is surprisingly satisfying, and when Gilliam starts moving the film faster than Wally West, the flaws are harder to see. In short, if you're less than pleased, still, stay till the end, there's a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow that doesn't just have leprechaun toilet water in it. Plus, through and through, this has Terry Gilliam written all over it, and though it's not the absolute classic that Brazil or Monty Python and the Holy Grail arguably are, it's a must for fans, and at least a bound ahead of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
Whoreywood flicks are dying on the vine and are mass-produced like Coke, Pepsi and Moxie, but in the fairy tale world that Terry Gilliam unfortunately shares with far too few peers, a different kind of movie can often be crafted. For this reason alone, The Brothers Grimm is worth checking out. Luckily there are many other reasons to go with it, and therefore, while it's not the be all, the end all, or even the Grimm Reality, The Brothers Grimm gets Three and One Half Stars out of Five. Don't fear the Grimms. Now, if someone might just flip the book over and throw out some of those Anderson's Fairy Tales, we might get a slightly less derivative film. That is unless Bob and Harvey keep sticking their pinkies into the cake. A'ight den. I'm gonna go get myself a Coke, Pepsi or Moxie. See you in the Next Reel, where we'll all live happily ever after!
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