- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Budget deal exposes GOP divisions; conservatives slam tax hikes, vague cuts
MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Brothers’
Question of the Day
In its attempt to examine the war on terror through the lens of family struggles, “Brothers” occasionally works. Ultimately, however, it fails in two respects.
The first is the cardboard cutouts that make up the Cahill family. Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is your typical black sheep, a troublemaker whom we first see being escorted out of prison for a bank robbery he committed some years earlier. Sam (Tobey Maguire) is the all-American captain in the Marine Corps, the high school quarterback who ended up marrying his cheerleading sweetheart Grace (Natalie Portman).
Hank (Sam Shepard), meanwhile, is the gruff father who can’t hide his disappointment in Tommy or his admiration for Sam. Needless to say, family dinners tend to be a wee bit stressful when these stereotypes come into conflict.
The second way in which “Brothers” doesn’t quite work revolves around the emotional highlights, which come across as forced and untrue to the characters.
Sam’s helicopter is shot down during a mission in Afghanistan. Although his family is told that he has died, he is, instead, in a Taliban prison camp, where he suffers at the hands of his captors. Eventually, he is pushed to do something so terrible it breaks him mentally.
But the shocking action Sam is forced to take seems to come out of nowhere. Up to that point, he has been strong, refusing to participate in a video disavowing the war in Afghanistan or do anything else that would dishonor him or his country. The emotional breaking point he crosses feels, at best, unearned, and at worst, extremely manipulative.
Returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder, Sam finds his children less than thrilled with his rise from the dead and is convinced that Grace and Tommy are sleeping together. When one of his girls blows up during a birthday party, Sam snaps.
That blowup by the daughter is the second emotional moment that simply doesn’t ring true. It’s all the more surprising because the two girls (played by Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare) are outstanding up to that point: cute but not overly so, and naturalistic in a way that few children manage to accomplish.
Their turn isn’t the only fine one in this picture: Mr. Gyllenhaal and Miss Portman are both excellent as the grieving family members, while Mr. Shepard does a fine job as a gravelly voiced vet trying to connect with his son, even if his was only a very thinly sketched role.
The one disappointment is Mr. Maguire, who is all bug eyes and amped-up intensity. His performance never quite gels with the others.
RATING: R (language and some disturbing violent content)
CREDITS: Directed by Jim Sheridan
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
WEB SITE: www.brothersfilm.com
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS
About the Author
- BEYOND HOLLYWOOD: Poking fun at blaxploitation
- MOVIES/BUNCH: A year of hits... and misses (mostly hits)
- 'Avatar' rising
- Blu-ray for everyone
- MOVIE REVIEW: 'Avatar'
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- KIBBE: Another Republican budget surrender
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Obama administration blasts GOP for criticism of Castro handshake
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow