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Brothers Are Grimm For Way Too Long
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There appear to be two faces of director Terry Gilliam working today. The first crafted the Rubik’s cube of a mystery “12 Monkeys” and the perplexing masterpiece “ Brazil.” The other wandered around the vast set of “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” leaving us with a listless, elephant of an epic. With references to fairy tales and melding of fact and fiction, I prayed the first Terry Gilliam had directed “The Brother’s Grimm.” Unfortunately we instead have received another creaky, slow, humorless comedy in ancient times from Mr. Gilliam.

Two brothers (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) travel Europe, ridding villages of witches and goblins and trolls. Con artists, who have been staging all the hauntings, Will and Jacob Grimm discovery a true enchanted forest, one haunted by a Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci, “Passion of the Christ”).

Never has a story with such promise been so squandered. The real Grimm brothers wrote such legendary tales as Cinderella, Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel. Writer Ehren Kruger had the potential to fantasize the impetus for each tale. However, while modern classics like Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods” and Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” twisted the tales we know into fresh deconstructed stories, Kruger merely tosses in references as if they were Mel Brooks puns. The images of a boy turning to a gingerbread man, a lost maiden growing glass slippers and a girl in a red cape being captured by a wolf could have forged a live-action “Shrek.” Instead nothing jells.

The acting is fine, particularly Peter Stromare (“ Fargo”) as a clownish Italian officer who becomes obsessed with the boys, but none of the actors appear to understand Gilliam’s tone, probably because he himself seems lost.

The effects, which include menacing trees, lycanthropes and a shattered glass woman, excels where the story fails.

A sluggish misfire, “The Brothers Grimm” required a wittier writer than the instigator of “Ring 2” and “Scream 3.” Terry Gilliam usually works with top screenwriters like Richard LaGravenese, Tom Stoppard and his Monty Python buddies. He should be able to distinguish between a script that glistens and a script that extinguishes. Grade: Red-Eye: B+; Brothers Grimm: D+

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