The Brothers Grimm

When Terry Gilliam (Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, 12 Monkeys) gets a movie right, it is a magical piece of work. When gets a movie wrong, he goes all out and makes a spectacular mess of things (or almost does - see Lost in La Mancha). The Brothers Grimm falls squarely into the latter category. Like all Gilliam films, it looks fantastic. But the fault for this film's deficiencies lie with screenwriter Ehren Kruger (The Skeleton Key, The Ring 2). The story gives ample opportunity for Gilliam to exercise his skill at eye candy, but is thoroughly mind numbing and provides no good reason for its existence. Kruger's work has been all over the place. His highest profile films (and most successful for that matter) were remakes of successful films.

The Brothers Grimm has an interesting premise. Wilhelm (Matt Damon, Ocean's Twelve, The Bourne Supremacy) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger, Lords of Dogtown, The Order) are frauds. They prey on the local legends and superstitions of local villagers by staging elaborate hoaxes of witches, trolls, and the like, then coming in and ridding the town of their problems. All for a sizable fee. What Kruger did not do was to build a coherent story around this. The Brothers Grimm stumbles along, trying to come up with its own sense of internal logic, but fails every single time.

Children are disappearing in a small German village, and Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce, De-Lovely, Pirates of the Caribbean), the French official in charge of the area captures the Grimms and commands them to figure out who is behind the disappearances. Delatombe knows that the Grimms are frauds, and initially suspected them of the disappearances. He now wants to leverage their knowledge to figure out who is committing these acts. As insurance, he sends Cavaldi (Peter Stormare, Constantine, Birth), a bumbling Italian soldier, to watch over them. That's all fine and dandy, but Kruger tries to throw in additional conflict late in the film by having Delatombe arrive to try to kill Jake and Will. Why? Don't think too hard, because nothing makes sense.

Will and Jake arrive on the scene and attempt to investigate. They get reluctant help from Angelika (Lena Headey, The Cave, Possession), an outcast. People believe she is cursed. And why not, she's a German girl with an English accent. Angelika leads the Grimms deep into the forest where they find an ancient tower. Local legends say that years ago, a queen (Monica Bellucci, She Hate Me, The Passion of the Christ), imprisoned herself in order to stay away from a plague. Does this legend have something to do with the disappearances? Duh. The brothers must learn how to deal with something they have no belief in - magic. The Brothers Grimm does have an old-fashioned feel to the proceedings. Gilliam constructs everything to look like a living fairy tale, and Damon and Ledger bicker like actual brothers. It's too bad that this, along with nearly everything else in The Brothers Grimm comes off as annoying instead of endearing.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 58 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, frightening sequences, and brief suggestive material.

Back to Movies