Thursday, September 22, 2005

Grim Brothers Grimm

What to bring to enjoy The Brothers Grimm:

1. P120.00
2. Mile-long patience
3. Generous supply of sense of humor
4. Zero knowledge on who the real Brothers Grimm were
5. Empty bladder
6. Happy three friends

Now on with the critique:

I did not enter SM Megamall’s Cinema 3 empty handed (if you want to be literal, empty headed). Some time ago, my friend, Nikka, lent me an old copy of the National Geographics Magazine featuring the Brothers Grimm. Since this happened “some time ago” the data in my memory have already started to rust. However, this is what I was able to retain: Jacob and Will were not the only Brothers Grimm. While they were the ones who wrote the tales, their other brother (I’m not sure if it’s “brothers”) did the illustrations for their stories. Unlike in the movie where they hired non-Grimm acting cons, the Grimm business was more family-run in real life. I do not remember reading that they were fraudulent supernatural element slayers. And I never got the impression that the brothers were capable of displaying dumbness in public, even dumbness relative to their time. They may be eccentric--after all coming up with fairytales requires a major thinking out of the box--but eccentricity is nowhere near dumbness. I could not imagine a Grimm saying nonsense because of alcohol intoxication, or snuggling with two women at once, or being dragged in the cobblestone streets of Germany in his sleepwear in the middle of the night. It was really lame sacrificing the brothers’ dignity in pursuit of comedy. I really hope that the producers of the movie have good relations with the Grimm family because the way I see it, they’d have a lot of explaining to do. And if I myself am a Grimm, it would take more than explanations to appease me from the commercial blasphemy done to my ancestors.

I’ve expressed many times my lack of fondness towards Matt Damon. Not that he’s a bad actor, in fact he’s good. I just don’t like his face. Fortunately in this movie, he did not look like his usual self so I would have forgotten that it was him had it not for his Stuck On You (his kambal-tuko movie with Greg Kinnear) acting. (Does he have to do this every time he plays someone else’s brother?) On the other hand, Heath Ledger with his macho voice, accent included, was not his gorgeous self. One, he looked like a balding Eric Quizon, and no woman today thinks Eric Quizon is sexy--maybe some man will but not a woman. And two, he sways too much. If I did not know it was him, I’d think it really was Eric Quizon!

To be fair (This is my attempt to substitute “in fairness.”), I have to say that the movie had its funny points. Unfortunately the lines that were supposed to be funny did not work on the audience that night. The way the majority of the audience reacted (or did not react) to the punch lines was quite disappointing. I had to restrain myself from blurting out loud, “Hey, come on you guys! Matt and Heath are really trying hard here; you could at least laugh! Words can be funny too, even better than slaps.”

The Brothers Grimm would have been full of climaxes had it not for the rising actions falling before even reaching their peaks. Fifteen minutes after the movie begins, a viewer will start searching for an “umph”--something the movie came short of. Bladders can be an accurate “umph” gauge. I, for example, despise visiting the loo in between a movie, this is regardless of how filled my bladder is. But in the case of The Brothers Grimm, nothing kept me still on my seat. No element made me forget my need to pee. And when I did excuse myself for a while, I did not miss anything. It was as if time stopped and the characters’ lives paused, thus nothing big or small happened to them the whole time I was gone.

Not even the movie’s being post modern would justify its constipated climaxes. Angelica (Lean Headly), although pretty, tried hard to project that there was something special about her. She did not enjoy the grandness of her character because by the time her importance in the movie was revealed, she had already lost consciousness (I wonder if it was due to boredom). The same movement was adopted by the film’s other supposedly good points.

Yes the film had visual effects--some great, some too obvious--but hey, we see visual effects everyday! Think telefantasia. Special effects nowadays are just as present and just as important as costumes. If they’re executed well, we say, “wow!” But visual effects no longer work as the major source of “umph.” Visual spectacle ceased being so after Steven Spielberg made three movies starring computer generated images of dinosaurs.

The movies worst aspect can be summed up by this expression which I have to borrow from my officemate, “Them Americans!” I got the feeling that the makers of this film did not care much about the treatment of their characters because they were not Americans. The Germans ended up looking like dugyutin gullible citizens while the French were portrayed as psychotic barbarians. I don’t know what to make of the Germans since they were really oppressed during the Brothers’ time. Their poverty may have resulted in lack of proper hygiene and illiteracy. But then the French could have been barbaric without being psychotic. Just look at Imelda Marcos. She was once barbaric, looting millions of Filipinos billions of dollars, but since in her realm, she never did anything wrong, she managed to project that she was not at all psychotic.

Another “them Americans” moment: You will see that as the movie progresses, it was Heath Ledger’s character that was the more appropriate love interest for Angelica. Of course Matt Damon had to go between them. Probably to entertain myself, I whispered to my friend, “Uy, Dubai! (Aga-Claudine-John Loyd triangle)” Ledger was even the one who administered the kiss the reversed Angelica’s death. But Angelica kissed back Damon instead. Was it because Damon is an American and Ledger is an Australian? Let’s ask the producers who decided to change their minds in the end. Probably to neutralize the Americans-get-the-girl-in-the-end tension, Angelica kisses both Damon and Ledger. I think it was both on the lips which makes it, not redeeming but utterly gross.

What now is the movie’s redeeming value? Of course, they’re the fairytale elements embedded in every sequence. Identifying them feels like answering Alex Quebec’s questions for a hundred or so. And finally, although this has nothing to do with the film, watching the Brothers Grimm would not have been a worthwhile activity if it were not for my three friends to whom I owe this piece: Kistna, Joy and Arjane. The end.

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