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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look: 29.41%
Average: 29.41%
Pretty Bad32.94%
Total Crap: 2.35%

9 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Brothers Grimm, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"This movie doesn't exist. Indulge my selective amnesia."
2 stars

You'd think a movie called "The Brothers Grimm" directed by Terry Gilliam, one of the leading fantasists in world cinema, would be an occasion for true sorcery. But I can see no evidence, other than a few glittering spots of bent visual imagination, that Gilliam was even on the set.

The movie feels thoroughly like a project Gilliam did halfheartedly, just to stay in the game. The result plays like what might have happened if Stanley Kubrick had directed an episode of Battlestar Galactica -- some interesting moments no other director could've pulled off, but why the hell is he even bothering?

I'm beginning to think that old-school, quill-pen-and-candlelight fantasy and Terry Gilliam are too neat a fit, anyway. This director thrives on conflict; he has often yearned for the old Monty Python days, when they had no budget for real horses and had to make do with knights hopping around and clacking coconut shells together. Such a sloppy, scattershot genius as Gilliam needs something to push against, some barrier to force him towards a creative workaround, if he is not to disappear up his own nethers. Two of his best recent films, 12 Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, had nary a whisper of fairy tales, giants, period costumes, etc. Maybe Gilliam, like David Lynch, needs stories that aren't ideally suited to his past strengths, so that he doesn't fall into easy self-repetition. Gilliam does nothing in The Brothers Grimm that he hasn't done before, and far better, in such films as Time Bandits and even Jabberwocky.

The premise, cooked up by screenwriter Ehren Kruger (continuing his long run of mediocrity after a promising start with 1999's Arlington Rd.), has the famous storytelling brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) as con artists who bilk superstitious villagers by fabricating supernatural menaces and then swooping in to save the day. Naturally, the Grimms are put to the test when a real paranormal threat rears its head: various children, including Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, have gone missing, and the Frenchmen who occupy Germany want the Grimms to get to the bottom of the mystery. This has promise, but the movie quickly degenerates into scenes of Matt Damon and Heath Ledger (the latter of whom is gradually shaking off some of his earlier stiff mannerisms) rushing around cluttered sets. As a fantasy, Grimm coheres even less well than Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which I thought was a righteous mess until I saw this one.

Is it a comedy? A dark fantasy? Gilliam never pinpoints it, and I'm not sure he wants to. I think he wants it to be a scruffy, disorganized tall tale, debunking the great brothers as a couple of fakers and wankers. But then they're also supposed to rise to the occasion and become heroes -- Gilliam tries to have it both ways, and it doesn't work here. A Terry Gilliam movie about the real Brothers Grimm, with no lame formula thrills imposed onto the biographical material, might've been something to see and cherish. Instead we get a hodgepodge only slightly more intelligent than Van Helsing, and you have no idea how it pains me to say that.

A couple of bits -- a horse that unfurls a spider web from its mouth, a girl who rubs her face off -- are fantastical and disturbing in the classic Gilliam manner. Probably moments like that were what made Gilliam want to come to the set every morning. But the rest of it is just so much wasted, frantic energy. Jonathan Pryce turns up as a snitty French higher-up, looking visibly bored; the luscious Monica Bellucci, in spectacular costumes we never get a good look at, barely makes an impression as the evil Mirror Queen before she turns into a computer effect. The Grimms themselves seem lost in their own movie; they're 19th-century Ghostbusters without the wit.

I'm not often shocked any more by the badness of any given movie -- movies, by and large, suck nowadays. But this is Terry Gilliam, man, the director of whom I could never have said that his work, even when flawed and sloppy, left me bored and irritated. Until now.

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originally posted: 12/28/06 12:29:07
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell not grimm pretty good actually 4 stars
2/07/11 Pamela White fun take on dark age con men and karma 3 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 5 stars
6/09/07 Danielle Ophelia Indeed it is better than Van Helsing--long live Gilliam--but that doesn't take much. 3 stars
6/03/07 Beth C. this movie was very interesting and really fun to watch. 5 stars
11/30/06 Stanley Thai Meh. Gilliam kinda falls short with this film. 3 stars
10/20/06 MP Bartley Visually ravishing and loopily entertaining. The film Van Helsing should have been. 4 stars
9/08/06 drydock54321 kind of dumb 3 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Obviously an attempt at a Labyrinth-ish cult classic; So its strictly medieocre. 3 stars
7/13/06 David Cohen Gilliam's worst movie, lacked cohesion, but not terrible 3 stars
7/07/06 Doremimi If your TV has a subtitles feature, turn it on, otherwise, it's completely incoherent. 2 stars
6/27/06 chienne Loved it, different & typically Gilliam. 5 stars
1/01/06 y2mckay too dumbed down for adults, too violent for kids, weak broad humor and meandering plot. 2 stars
12/25/05 othree Disneyish butchering Grimm favorites, in good humor, family movie 3 stars
12/19/05 um fatty it was a good movie um, publish 4 stars
12/19/05 Bree It was a fun film, but less than par for Gilliam. 3 stars
9/22/05 Fritz Dollar theaters were made for this sort of movie. Entertaining. 3 stars
9/21/05 Jonathon Holmes booooooooooooring 2 stars
9/21/05 Eric Fortune I thought this movie was better than most critics said it was. I enjoyed it. 4 stars
9/19/05 Glennyce Paetzmann If you're willing to submit to Gilliam's style completely, then you might end up liking it. 4 stars
9/15/05 millersxing A disappointment. BG is to Gilliam as Sleepy Hollow is to Burton. 3 stars
9/07/05 Gray I thought it would more funny and less weird 3 stars
8/31/05 Christian lady Too choppy, boring other than the forest scenes 3 stars
8/31/05 Titus Moments of genius, but some horrible writing and acting by the supporting cast. 3 stars
8/29/05 herkos akhaion One of Gilliam's best 5 stars
8/28/05 sweetgrrl1972 Boring. I've never come so close to falling asleep in a movie theatre before 1 stars
8/27/05 cam-ron I already saw this film. It was called BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF...only that one was good. 2 stars
8/27/05 sam a wild romp i recommend for all. 4 stars
8/27/05 KingNeutron SUCKS ALL ASS; I can't blv they actually released this pile of CRAP. Ledger is miscast. 1 stars
8/27/05 Mr. Chuckles Surprisingly awesome. Almost as good as Twelve Monkeys. Almost. 5 stars
8/26/05 Ray OK 4 stars
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  26-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005



Directed by
  Terry Gilliam

Written by
  Ehren Kruger

  Matt Damon
  Heath Ledger
  Peter Stormare
  Jonathan Pryce
  Monica Bellucci
  Lena Headey

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