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The Brothers Grimm (***)
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Written by Ehren Kruger
The Brothers Grimm
Principal Cast
Matt Damon -- Wilhelm Grimm
Heath Ledger -- Jacob Grimm
Petr Ratimec -- Young Will
Barbara Lukęsova -- Mother Grimm
Anna Rust -- Sister Grimm
Jeremy Robson -- Young Jacob
Josef Pepa Nos -- German War Veteran
Harry Gilliam -- Stable Boy
Roger Ashton-Griffiths -- Mayor
Mackenzie Crook -- Hidlick
Richard Ridings -- Bunst
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The Brothers Grimm is a delightful movie, with much more originality both in plot and visual effects than most fantasies. It gets off to a rather rocky start; initially the brothers are not very likable. They make their living by swindling the gullible and they don't get along with each other all that well. The dialogue is delivered with a realistic disregard for intelligibility. But there are enough remarkable sights to keep the moviegoer's mind from wandering, and things pick up considerably when real fantasy begins to intrude upon the brothers' scams.

There was a preview before this movie for a film about a poor-but-honest golfer who wins the big game. The underdog-who-wins is a movie genre guaranteed to please. You know before you sit down exactly what is going to happen, and how you are going to feel about it. And as you watch, sure enough, it does happen, and you feel good. Most movies are like that.

Terry Gilliam has produced a body of work where you do not know what is going to happen and are often unsure about how you are going to feel. Sometimes, as in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, what is happens is boring and unpleasant. Other times, as in Time Bandits, you are delighted and surprised. Some of his films are a mixed bag. What to make of 12 Monkeys? Hard to say.

The Brothers Grimm is more toward the Time Bandits end of the spectrum, though there are certainly things in it that don't work -- the gingerbread man in particular. Terry Gilliam is not slick -- more lumpy, but with lots of good bits, like the chocolate chips in a rather too large cookie.

Several reviewers have complained that you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys, but that is exactly the point. Heroes and villains are dramatic constructs with no correspondence to real life. Real life is messy: just like a Terry Gilliam movie. You have to get to know the characters before you can decide whether you like them or not.

But when you do get to know them, you find them appealing. The same thing happens with real people, who are boring at first, but grow on you. If you can deal with ambiguity, and allow yourself to get caught up in the action, you will enjoy the movie. When the brothers Grimm go back into the woods, the movie begins to carry you along, and you leave smiling.

If you want to know where you stand before you go in, perhaps you should see the film about golf, instead.

Ehren Kruger wrote Ring Two and the forthcoming John Carter of Mars.

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Copyright © 2005 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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