Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Non-Review: Brothers

Walking into the theater one might expect to see a rehash of a Lifetime channel movie. Well you
couldn't be farther off. It's at the very least a Lifetime Movie Network special event. Slightly higher production value with a better cast of actors. Not to mention that it's directed by the man who committed 50 cent's movie to film. Sure he did other respectable movies, but somethings we must never forget.

The basic rundown of the film is as follows

When capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) goes missing in Afghanistan, his brother Tommy (Tobey Maguire) steps in to help care for Sam's wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and their children. As Tommy and Grace become closer, Sam's reappearance brings a host of problems that was summed up in Shania Twain's seminal hit song "Whose bed have your boots been under". Hilarity ensues. Directed by Jim Sheridan (Get rich or die tryin', In America) with a screenplay by David Benioff (X-men Origins: Wolverine, The Kite Runner). Remade from Bröder

This is a film that I'd been anticipating for awhile. I'd heard positive things about it and fully prepared to enjoy it. I was sadly disappointed. The problem is that despite the actors having a real chemistry, the characters just aren't likable. 

When first we meet Maguire he's the selfish younger brother, who's spent time in prison. He's used to being the irresponsible one. On the other hand, Maguire, the older sibling, has always been the opposite. The two of them are completely different sides of completely different coins (See: Sarcasm). Portman is the loving wife who has never gotten along with her brother-in-law. 

Pretty quickly we are greeted by the news that Maguire has gone missing in Afghanistan. This is where things start to change. Yonder Maguire upon receiving news that his brother is dead, undoubtedly becoming jerky in the desert sands, decides it's about time he did something (someone) with his life. Thus he feels it's his duty to take care of his kin. It is here that the "cleverness" begins, as we watch these two characters begin warming to each other, we see Maguire becoming the responsible man his brother always was. A reversal also takes place for Portman as she begins transferring her affections for Maguire to Maguire. 

Tension tension, suspense suspense. I always like movies that partially rely on your having seen the trailers to build suspense. As you know from the previews Maguire isn't dead and returns to find his wife and brother are a little too close for comfort. Going for the hat trick Maguire is also changed. No longer is he the same mature man. He's got a screw loose. This appears to be some ridiculous point that's trying to be made in the middle of the movie. One of those, see, the brothers are really the same person, type of things. 

The rest of the movie goes as you might expect, heating up the pot until the crescendo less explodes and more boils over dowsing the fire and cooling everything rapidly. I don't want to ruin what little there is to ruin, but suffice to say I was underwhelmed. 

The movie isn't all negatives. Tobey Maguire reminds us once again that he is capable of acting beyond the comic book. And Tobey Maguire slides nicely into the moody character archetype he's been playing ever since Donnie Darko. There's also some nice bits from Sam Shepard and Ethan Suplee. Unfortunately there just isn't great material for them to work from. I did enjoy the scene with the brothers though... classic.

Excellent pacing, and great acting, this film struggles in it's attempt at something better than it is. Sadly it'll just have to settle for mediocrity. Easily forgettable but still worth a watch. That is when it hits Lifetime in a few months.

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