Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Feeling Reaped: The Brothers Grimm

Camp can be a good thing.

I'm saying this from a very camp-oriented perspective. I enjoy movies that relish in the styles of the B-movie glory days.

"The Lost World," in all its claymation splendor.

"The Boondock Saints," arguably the best action-ish film...ever.

"Serenity," Joss Whedon reminding us all why he is, in fact, the fifth coming of our Lord, Gilgaminad.

So I often enjoy movies that embrace their roots and really let the cheese flow all over the place.

A little while ago--about a week to be precise--I took a look at a film that embodies the ancient ideals.

"The Brothers Grimm."

Some of you--by which I mean everyone under the age of 409--have heard of the Grimm Brothers' fairytales. Some of these include "Snow White," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Rapunzel."

You know, those cult classics from the age before TV. You know, back when people hadn't yet invented fun and had to make do sitting around telling stories or (shudder) reading.

These stories scared the bejesus out of just about everyone, because they were (you guessed it) rather grim in nature.

"The Brothers Grimm" plays upon this in a very interesting way.

Yes, I did say "interesting", which isn't to say "good" or "worth seeing."

Let's start with the roster.

Matt Damon (go ahead, do the "Team America" thing) plays Wilhelm, the older and more money-oriented brother. Heath Ledger (that heartthrob...oh, girls go ahead and swoon. I'll be in the corner dying inside) plays the idealistic Jacob. Together they are the brains behind a con game that covers most of Europe.

The funniest part of this movie happens in the first five minutes, which is why I feel no shame in ruining it for you.

As you may (or may not, it's your right) know, the Grimm brothers were German, which would ordinarily classify them as either Nazis or fascists--or both. But this film is set around the 1800s, where Germany is just another player in the European empire-garden.

The first scene is a quick introduction of Will and Jacob as brothers who don't-quite-get-along. Then it's on to "present day" in "FRENCH OCCUPIED GERMANY."

I'm going to give you a space to let that sink in.

(sink sink sink)

It made me laugh, too.

The problem is that, after that quite clever line, the movie drops down below the radar.

There are some special effects, but they don't break any ground. I think the most amazing thing done is the nationality swap for Peter Stormare, who trades in his Eastern European accent for a nice, fluid French one.

Jonathan Pryce (the wig-headed governor from "Pirates of the Caribbean") plays a French general, which is amusing in its own right. He pulls it off well, and it's a testament to his ability as an actor to pull off such duality. Unfortunately, it's not nearly enough to save this film.

Monica Bellucci (perhaps the most amazingly attractive woman ever to appear in sci-fi) plays the evil witch-queen of the region. Her make-up (slash ugly-double) is fantastic, but her role is so insignificant that you'll barely notice her as she appears on screens, says her page of dialogue, and dies un-spectacularly.

Lena Heady (A Kera Knightly look-a-like) plays Angelika, the sultry woods-lovin-gal who falls for...well, that's hard to say. No one really "gets the girl" in this film, and both brothers express similar interest in her. She kisses both. I mean...it's enough to make any man guess as to her intentions.

The general idea of this film is that, after conning most of Europe into paying them as demon-slayers, the Brothers Grimm are nabbed by the French (evil and wussy at the same time) and forced to find out about another supposed con.

But this time the magic is real.

The inside jokes are abound, such as the old woman offering beautiful girls apples; a young child in a red riding-hood; Hansel and Gretel...the list goes on. There's even a gingerbread man...who eats little girls' faces.

It's a pleasant yarn, but the overall idea isn't very well fleshed out.

It's hard not to like this movie. Matt and Heath really play out well on camera, especially now that Mr. Damon has fully shed his skin to grow from that pretty boy in "Good Will Hunting" to the BAMF in "Bourne Identity." Heath too comes off as more than just a lure for the tween-age lady-types.

As they go about their travels, their banter really does sound like siblings arguing over what is real and what is just "magic beans." In another poke at the idea of the Grimm Brothers, Heath is constantly jotting down notes about the various witches and goblins the townsfolk believe in, which we all know will later turn into the fairytales we grew up with.

Clever? Not nearly enough.

The "love" interest, Heady, isn't attractive enough to really win over the male audience, even if her Kera Knightly look-at-how-pursed-my-lips-can-be-and-yet-I-can-still-speak impression is spot on. Monica comes in too little too late at the end of the film and the only other women involved in the plotline are 10-12 years old.

As far as bad movies go, it's missing that essential visual appeal, the T n' A.

This movie wasn't as bad as many of the films I've seen, but it doesn't deserve much more credit. The writers missed out on making a truly funny piece with unique humor and instead went with an easily forgettable mess that barely holds together to the last line.

I'm trying to shy away from ratings that make no sense (in my not so subtle effort to one day review good movies and thus become an actual movie reviewer rather than the cinematic equivalent of a canary in a coal mine) but this one came so easily that I had to run with it.

Watching this movie is like hanging-out-with-Kera Knightly-on-a-fine-afternoon-only-to-have-rain-wash-away-pounds-of-make-up-to-reveal-Lena-Heady-instead. You start out with high hopes, but the reality is just plain disappointing.

Now I'm off to watch...more crap, I guess. See what I do for you people? And all you give me are complaints that I don't spell check enough...sigh.

No respect.

Watch carefully.


Anonymous said...

Was that last bit targeted directly at me? How rude.

Anyways stinky, i agree with your analysis except that the movie had any good parts to it. it almost had some good parts, but then...no. if the grimm tales were the movie's supposed muse, the story was not nearly as dark and gruesome as it could have been.

Unknown said...

The good part was the French Occupied Germany. We paused the movie and laughed. Come on thats hilarious.

Anonymous said...

but why is it funny? france did occupy germany...once...during the grimm brothers' life. i mean, they were 13 or so at the time, but i still don't get why it's funny.