“The Brothers Grimm” is a silly movie. It has a certain pythonesque quality that you need to be able to appreciate otherwise you will most likely think it’s a stupid movie. It isn’t. There are of course countless references to Grimm fairy tales and sometimes these are presented in a most absurd manner – something you have to expect from Terry Gilliam and it’s something he delivers.
At one point we suddenly cut to the two brothers Wilhem (Matt Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) wearing bonnets while scrubbing the floor and making dinner for their italian torture master Cavaldi (Peter Stormare), easy to spot as a reference to “Cinderella” but also very… “pythonesque”.
Viewers will have a hard time identifying any and all references in the whole movie and it is also the reason this movie may not appeal to you since the story is stitched together and criss crossed with “Grimmy” fairy tale references, which doesn’t make it any more plausibe or appealing if you are looking for a “logical” story line; that and the fact that it does rather drag along at times. But be honest, how many Grimm fairy tales do you know? To get the most out of this absurd fun ride through Grimm fairy tale history you’d have to know the tales, of course. However, if you are not into Grimm fairy tales and you also do not like the pythonesque style then you may want to steer clear from the “brothers”. This is not a movie about accuracy or a biography, it’s a fabrication that is loosely based on fragments of Grimms folk tales.
I must say, the beautiful costumes and sets are spot on and Gilliam with his masterful eye for the gritty details goes all the way, be it spitting, skinning of hares or tasting of freshly minced puppy meat. It’s all there. What is also there is CGI and since it is low budget CGI it also looks like low budget CGI, as in tacky. Does it matter? Not really. It blends in well with the whole feel of the movie and contributes to the sillyness. Of course you could argue that these cheap looking special effects ruin the movie but then again if you went to see this movie because of the CGI then you’ve been in the wrong movie to begin with.
By the licking of a toad, something wicked that way lies. So let’s go the other way. Grandmother Toad knows. Would you lick a toad when you want to ask for the way? OK, do not answer. Let me just say that much: the power of magic beans eventually even gets to the hardest of men and evil torturers suddenly reassess their mode of employment.
While Grandma Toad only croaks, the characters do speak (as long as they have a mouth and are not turned into the Gingerbread man) in all sorts of outrageous accents. Watching this movie in a French cinema with 90% French audience was all the more funny – or “fynee” – for reasons I shall not discuss any further here.
Peter Stormare was just so Italian; no one would ever think he is Swedish! Brilliant man. And Jonathan Pryce, a Welshman, as “Delatombe” was a feast for the ears, too.
I am not so sure the French audience liked the Napoleon imitation that much though but that again is Gilliam, all the way: “Bloody frogs”.
In conclusion, I have to say that apart from the dragging parts and tacky CGI you get a good laugh for your money. It is a silly movie as I already have stated, so do not expect to see a Narnian epic fairy tale, because “The Brothers Grimm” only have magic beans for those who … like to believe in magic beans.