October 5, 2005 – “The Brothers Grimm” stars Matt Damon (“The Bourne Identity”) and Heath Ledger (“A Knight’s Tale”) as the Grimm brothers (Will and Jake) of the title and fairytale storytellers fame. It is a fantasy film that tries to imagine what exactly laid the groundwork for all those classic Grimm fairytales (“Little Red Riding Hood”, “Hansel and Gretel”, etc…). The story takes place during the time of Napoleon in a French controlled Germany. Will (Damon) and Jake (Ledger) Grimm are legendary “ghostbusters” of sorts, who travel the countryside from town to town and for a fee dispatch ghosts, ghouls, witches, goblins, and demons that have been harassing locals. We soon find out, however, that it’s all a hoax, and that they’re just con men, who along with some cohorts, use elaborate special effects and Jake’s enormous knowledge of local folklore and urban legends to bring these “apparitions” to life to terrorize these townships, until they show up conveniently to exorcise the evil spirit and be hailed as conquering heroes. The French government figures out the Grimms’ scheme, and forces them to go to a town where little girls are going missing in order to flush out another apparent con artist and hopefully, in the process, retrieve the missing girls. A problem arises, however, when they get there and discover that this time who or what they’re facing is no con artist, like themselves, but the real deal, a spirit, or demon, or whatever you want to call it, forcing them, for the first time, to really be who they’ve always purported themselves to be.
I’m not sure what to make of “The Brothers Grimm”. It’s interesting, as all Terry Gilliam (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “Twelve Monkeys”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) films tend to be, but what was interesting felt watered down and repressed in a way, like the filmmakers were not allowed to really push the envelope the way they would have liked, and as a result, the movie bored me at times. I just didn’t care about the story and the characters that much. There’s just no urgency to this movie; nothing to draw you in and keep you invested in the plot or characters. It can best be compared to a dumb action movie, except that it’s not dumb at all, but just a wasted effort. And by that I mean there’s so much invested in the eye candy, i.e., the sets, and the uniqueness of the world that’s created, the enthusiastic and, in some cases, perfectly over the top performances of the cast, but there’s just no substance, and considering you don’t need a lot of that for a movie of this sort, that’s saying something. All that being said, however, I have to, at the very least, recommend “The Brothers Grimm” for its set design, because it is quite simply awesome to look at, a real wonder to behold. And, even though I think they missed the mark somewhat, I also have to commend the filmmakers for their attempt at a very unique and intriguing “Three Amigos”-meets-“Ghostbusters”-set-in-a-dark-fairytale-world storyline, which had it been better executed could have made “The Brothers Grimm” a must-see, and maybe even a classic-cult or otherwise.