Hippo Manchester
September 1, 2005


   Home Page

   Hippo Nashua

 News & Features



 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note



 Pop Culture




   CD Reviews
   DVD Reviews




   Grazing Guide



   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts




 Find A Hippo




   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

The Brothers Grimm (PG-13)
by Amy Diaz

Matt Damon decides to see how the Affleck half lives and makes The Brothers Grimm, a movie devoid of merit and generally wearying of the soul.

Poor Ben Affleck — tall, handsome, affable but not tremendously skilled as an actor. Mostly, he just looks so damn happy to have gotten work. Sometimes this is enough to make his movies enjoyable (Shakespeare in Love, most Kevin Smith movies) but usually it is not (Gigli, anything with Sandra Bullock).

Damon, on the other hand, has managed to have a fairly good career for a short man with a relatively slight build. Yet perhaps he should have read a little more closely that contract the Mattfleck duo signed with the devil to get that Oscar. Perhaps then Damon would have seen that his success would include the occasional The Brothers Grimm.

On the other hand, take away the whole “brothers” conceit and you have a fairly decent gay love story between Wilhelm (Damon) and Jacob (Heath Ledger) Grimm, brothers who claim to fight ghosts, witches and other enchantments. Along with some prop guys they’ve hired to play the trolls and goblins, the Grimms travel the French and German countryside of the late 18th century and look for suckers. Though they are a loving couple, there is dissatisfaction. Jacob is a mover and shaker who enjoys the fame of fake ghostbusting but Wilhelm is a moodier lad who wants them to settle down into a house in the Napoleon-occupied suburbs where he can concentrate on his writing.

But fate takes a hand and the brothers’ fraud is uncovered by a French officer named Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce, who clearly has some sort of drug habit / gambling addiction / summer remodeling project he has to fund). Delatombe gives them a choice: death or working for the French. After seriously weighing those options (after all, the French), the brothers decide to work for Delatombe and are given the taste of unmasking fellow charlatans. They are sent to a German town where the folk believe their daughters have been kidnapped by the mischievous fairy-things in the nearby woods.

The movie gives our boys a nominal love interest, Angelika (Lena Headey), but even the story can’t decide which one likes her / which one she likes. So, it keeps Ledger and Damon together and with eyes only for each other — though perhaps all those longing looks are really just puzzlement over what happened to each other’s hair. Ledger’s hair is close cropped and, from his hair to his skin, he is a pasty blur — a grayish, yellowish smudge. Damon has something that looks like the Barbie Makeover Styling Head with a bad page boy from an impatient 7-year-old, a page boy with feathering.

Even with the bad hair and the odd romantic undertones between “brothers,” The Brothers Grimm might have succeeded were it not so screechy and joyless. Though camp is clearly the direction the subject matter wants to go, director Terry Gilliam and the gang do not let the flick run loose. Instead, they seem to try to ramp up excitement by ramping up volume — half the lines in the movie feel shouted. The fun elements — Jacob’s huckster-ish nature, the ways they use superstition to scam the yokels, the name-dropping of the brothers’ most famous stories — aren’t allowed to fully develop. Like petals from a daisy, these rare moments of cleverness fall away, leaving us with a field full of graying story-stems.

The most disappointing aspect of The Brothers Grimm is that a better movie was clearly there, under all the forced physical comedy or the weird, unnecessary Grimm-on-Grimm arguments. Somewhere fairy tale conventions and anachronistic dialog combine to create a cheesy but tasty late-summer treat. Sadly, that place just isn’t on our side of the looking glass.