A film that could have been something but just wasn't, "The Brothers Grimm" is one of those films that you'll see on video shelves every once in a while and say, "Oh yeah, I remember that one," and then move on. Not bad but not necessarily good, "The Brothers Grimm" fails to merge comedy, horror and Grimm fairy tales effectively. Questionable acting and unfocused direction also are to blame.
Matt Damon and Heath Ledger star as the two bumbling brothers who have made a career of vanquishing evil spirits from small villages. When forced by the French government to discover the truth behind the disappearance of eleven missing girls, the brothers find themselves in over their heads - mainly because they're frauds and have actually never encountered real magic before. Nonetheless, they are stuck in an enchanted forest filled with evil and a very unhappy dead witch (played by Monica Belluci in a disappointingly small role), and as you may expect they figure out a way to destroy her once and for all.
Neither Damon or Ledger deliver their best work here, and probably were miscast from the beginning. Damon, who is typically excellent, just never offers much, and Ledger fails miserably at playing a neurotic, hyper nerd. The two men are always dancing around the screen acting like scared idiots, but the result is a jumbled mess. Little of their humor really translates into authentic laughs from the audience, and their mannerisms definitely do not warrant a franchise anytime soon.
Beyond the lacking performances of Damon and Ledger lies a screenplay that needed a lot of refining. A horror movie that was also supposed to be a comedy, "The Brothers Grimm" falls somewhere in the middle of the two genres, never really scary and never very funny. Most of the jokes fall flat, and thanks to a poorly-paced script and execution of the script, things seem even more drawn out than they actually are.
Terry Gilliam, best known for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," delivers an imaginative world filled with moving trees, wolves and fairy tales, but without the concrete story and dialogue to fill the world with depth, it comes crashing in around him. The special effects are pretty good and the movie overall is pretty fun to watch from a visual perspective, but some scenes could have been edited to increase the pace. At 118 minutes, "The Brothers Grimm" feels much longer.
This horror-comedy could make a decent rental at some point, but its failure to decide on a genre results in a bland adventure film with nice visuals. The acting isn't great and the screenplay even worse; "The Brothers Grimm" is not a happy affair.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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