There is a reason that some movies sit on the shelf for a long time before they are released… and it isn’t because they are worth the wait. From what I understand, The Brothers Grimm was made almost two years ago until MGM could dump in at the end of summer.
The Brothers Grimm is the story of two charlatans in the 18th century who pretend to fight witches and goblins but in reality fake it all so they can milk simple villagers for all their money. Then they come across real magical evil and are called in to fight it, having to use what they have learned from faking to save the day.
The idea behind this is that the brothers have chronicled all their ideas which is eventually published as the fairy tales we all know and love today. Not a bad set up.
So how does it go so wrong?
Well, The Brothers Grimm has no heart. Former masterful director of the late 80s and early 90s Terry Gilliam has mentioned in interviews that this film was his attempt at making a “commercial” film. His lack of enthusiasm for the material is evident in every frame.
Gilliam seems to be attempting to channel Tim Burton, even down to copying his sets from Sleepy Hollow. But The Brothers Grimm pales in comparison even to that rather average film. I guess he felt that kind of thing made money once…
The cast doesn’t seem to believe in the movie either. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger play it all so tongue in cheek that the audience is never invested in their struggle. Worst of all is Peter Stormare who overplays his role in that slimeball, breathing-down-your-neck, screwing-everything-up sort of character that’s popular in European farce but generally annoying on this side of the pond. I couldn’t stand watching any of them for 10 minutes let along the length of a feature.
Film makers need to believe in what they are doing. Directors for hire and exactly that, even if they are former masters like Gilliam. The quality shows and MGM would have been better off sending this fairy tale straight to video where it belongs.