Friday, March 19, 2010

Brothers DVD



DVD Review by Kam Williams


Headline: Remake of Danish Dysfunctional Family Saga Due on DVD


Brothers amounts to a slight variation of Brodre (2004), a disturbing examination of the repercussions of War on Terror as experienced by a Danish family. As is often the case with remakes of foreign films, a lot gets lost in the English translation, and this emotionally-eviscerated, watered-down version is given to melodramatic outbursts which make for myriad inappropriate moments of levity.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire share the title role here, playing polar opposites cut from a couple of simplistically-drawn, antagonistic archetypes. At the point of departure, we meet ne’er-do-well Tommy Cahill (Gyllenhaal) who is just being paroled after serving time behind bars for committing a bank robbery. He is picked up from prison by his big brother, Sam (Maguire), a straitlaced Captain in the Marines.

Boy-most-likely Sam is blissfully in love with his high school sweetheart, Grace (Natalie Portman), and together the former football star and cheerleader are raising a couple of cute daughters (Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare) in a picture-perfect, suburban home surrounded by the proverbial picket fence. The fly in the ointment spoiling their sickeningly-sweet utopia is the stop-loss order sending the Afghan War veteran back overseas.

Prior to Sam’s departure, we witness the sharp contrast between his and Tommy’s status inside the Cahill clan. Everybody admires Rock of Gibraltar Sam, while his ex-con sibling simply can’t catch a break. What ensues after the establishment of this promising premise is bizarre beyond belief.

First, Sam is taken prisoner when his helicopter is shot down in the mountains of Afghanistan. Inexplicably, he is subsequently reported as “Killed in Action” which sets off a chain of events that plays out like a perverse variation of the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son.

Next, seeking redemption, Tommy finally matures, and proves handy around the house while offering his grieving sister-in-law a little more than a shoulder to lean on. Even his nieces suddenly love him to pieces, as they appreciate the presence of an attentive father-figure capable of patiently playing along with their childish pranks.

Then, just when it looks like everybody’s adjusting to life without daddy, the plot predictably thickens when guess who is miraculously resurrected. Sam returns strung out with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome-induced anger management issues soon to be exacerbated by suspicions that his wife’s been cheating on him with his brother.

A farfetched soap opera that plays like an extended episode of The Jerry Springer Show.


Fair (1 star)

Rated R for profanity and disturbing violence.

Running time: 105 minutes

Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment

 DVD Extras: Audio commentary by director Jim Sheridan, plus a couple of featurettes: “Remade in the USA: How Brodre became Brothers,” and “Jim Sheridan: Film and Family.”

No comments: