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Movie Review: Brothers (2009)

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Written by Hombre Divertido

It is not unusual at this time of year for one's thoughts to turn to the upcoming holiday, the New Year, and of course the best and worst movies of the current year. The respective lists can be tough as they are usually limited to ten entrants. One can certainly thank the writers, director, producers, and actors of Brothers for supplying all with a surefire entrant on to everyone’s "worst of 2009" list.

This plodding 110-minute yawn fest featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, and Tobey Maguire drags along toward a conclusion that every audience member sees coming, and yet, still manages to be more disappointing than anticipated. The commercials for Brothers would certainly lead one to believe that this is an intense thriller. In actuality, there is little intensity until the second hour, and by then most of the audience has checked out.

Though Maguire manages to look eerily like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver that is certainly where the similarities cease. Maguire is simply in over his head as Capt. Sam Cahill, the emotionally unstable soldier returning to his family after being thought killed in Afghanistan. Mare Winningham is distractingly miscast as the Cahill's stepmother, but Maguire is the big problem as he is too young looking for his part and many of the emotional scenes are beyond his range. Most notable is Maguire's performance in the scene in which his character finally blows and begins to destroy his newly refurbished kitchen. Said performance will rival that of Sylvester Stallone in the conclusion of First Blood for one of the worst of all time. The rest of the cast is adequate. Unfortunately they are given little to do, and thus provide one-dimensional performances. Though Bailee Madison provides an engaging performance as Cahill's eldest daughter, the motivation for the character, and most of the others in the movie, is inconsistent and subsequently distracting.

The screenplay by David Benioff based on the motion picture Brødre, written by Susanne Beir and Anders Thomas Jensen, manages to surprise as it fails to go many places one might suspect. It fails to go anywhere that would generate any energy, tension, or excitement. Director Jim Sheridan reigns in his talented cast and wastes the skills of Gyllenhaal, Portman, and Sam Shepard. What should be emotion filled climactic confrontation scenes border on comical as they are too contrived.

Recommendation: It is rare to find a film that warrants no positive factors in a review. Perhaps if someone was to see Brothers more than once, they may find some redeeming qualities, but that would not be a task wished upon anyone during this joyous holiday season. If it hits DVD shelves before Christmas, which would be appropriate, it will make the perfect white elephant gift.

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  • Anonymous

    I think you’re a little overboard in comparing Maguire’s performance to Stallone…
    Maguire and Stallone are not even in the same league as actors.
    I was actually quite impressed with Maguire’s performance in “Brothers”. His performance was probably one of the best I’ve seen all year.

  • Ghost of Christmas Past

    lets play a game kids – what do the following movies have in common? stop loss, valley of elah, redacted, rendition, harsh times, brothers…..that’s right! they all portrayed soldiers as white trash semi-retarded mentally unstable scumbags (who would be in prison if they werent fighting george bush’s illegal war for oilblahblah), had a distinct antiwar vibe…AND they all lost millions of dollars and generally sucked. the exception to the rule is hurt locker, which had a more positive view of the military and was non-political. I hope some execs are reading this- just put your money in a big pile and light it on fire, save yourselves all the trouble.