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Heath Ledger and Matt Damon star as famous fairy-tale siblings in miserable Terry Gilliam adventure flick

Heath Ledger and Matt Damon star as famous fairy-tale siblings in Terry Gilliam adventure flick

THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Terry Gilliam, 2005)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, 12:20 am

A director of extremes, Terry Gilliam has made big-budget disasters and low-budget gems, overhyped tripe and underhyped masterpieces. The former Python’s 2005 take on the Brothers Grimm is, unfortunately, another dreadful excursion, a cold, distant reimagining of Will and Jake Grimm, who gave the world myriad fairy tales that are still beloved (and still rather frightening) today. (And this one had its share of problems with the studio again — this time with Bob and Harvey Weinstein.) Will (Matt Damon) and Jacob (Heath Ledger), the brothers Grimm, here are portrayed as con artists who travel French-occupied Germany pretending to slaughter made-up ghosts and goblins for money. But they’re soon captured by French general Delatombe (a disappointing Jonathan Pryce) and his right-hand man, the inexplicably Italian commander Cavaldi (a ridiculously overacting Peter Stormare). They are ordered to solve the real mystery of the disappearance of a group of young girls from the small village of Marbaden — or else they will be killed themselves. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger, who previously gave us such winners as Reindeer Games (John Frankenheimer, 2000) and The Ring Two (Hideo Nakata, 2005), fills the movie with references to Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, the Frog Prince, and Cinderella, but that doesn’t help save the film’s own lack of believable, endearing characters. You won’t care about anyone or anything that happens in Gilliam’s two-hour mess, which looks as if it was hacked to bits in the editing room like your mother’s chopped liver. The Brothers Grimm is screening in a 35mm print at 12:20 am on May 31 & June 1 as part of the IFC Center’s Waverly Midnights series “Terry Gilliam,” which continues through July 20 with such better Gilliam fare as Jabberwocky, The Fisher King, and Brazil.

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