Hoping to catch the last wave of summer moviegoers is the fantasy-drama flick, “The Brothers Grimm,” starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the title duo and directed by Terry Gilliam, famous for being a part of the Monty Python troupe. The actor-director, also responsible for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Twelve Monkeys,” this time offers something quite different.
In early 19th century Germany, we meet our main characters Jacob (Ledger) and Wilhelm (Damon) Grimm. The two, who are supposedly the famous recorders of mythical folklore, are presented as partners in the business of exorcising creatures and other spirits of a malicious and evil variety. In an intriguing twist, we find that the brothers are actually con men who are staging their battles with their demonic foes.
We also discover that Jake and Will (as they like to be called) clash, as siblings often do, which proves to be an obstacle when they are required to fight dark magic in a genuine “enchanted forest.”
Ledger’s bumbling yet good-natured Jake is far more likable and amiable than Damon’s controlling Will. Despite this, the tension between the two saves the characters from a fate of blandness and gives the audience someone to root for.
Though no fairytale is cited in its entirety in the film, moviegoers will recognize a well-blended combination of aspects from many, including Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White.
This way of citing the different fairy tales proves to be a good decision on the writers’ part, where full incorporation of such stories may have inadvertently created a trite, stale or even “children’s movie”-like quality.
Besides the storyline itself, the scenery of French-occupied Germany is exquisitely and gorgeously crafted and the landscape of dark, mysterious forests is only an enhancement to the plotline.
In the end, “The Brothers Grimm” appears as a sort of outlandish, yet interesting and entertaining cross between “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Van Helsing,” even if it fails to be truly memorable or remarkable. Gilliam does succeed in purposely injecting the kind of humor that movies of this type are usually sorely lacking.
Gilliam very much brings to mind Python-esque humor in the moments when he pokes fun at the French. However, the jokes, as well as the accents, come off overly affected and exaggerated and therefore fall flat.
Lines like that of the tyrannical French general, “All I wanted was order and a slice of quiche would be nice,” though momentarily humorous, quickly lose their punch.
In addition, the romantic storyline between Jacob and Angelika the skeptic (and supposedly cursed) huntress from the town the brothers are hoping to save seems oddly misplaced, as the chemistry never fully comes together.
Though the plot and characters may, at the movie’s conclusion, remain not fully developed, “The Brothers Grimm” boasts a less than grim prospect.