So through this movie, it has come to my attention that Tobey Maguire is a good actor. Don’t get me wrong, the Spider-Man movies are fantastic. SM3 was a little off, but Sam Raimi is an amazing director, actually my favorite. Watch the Evil Dead movies and you’ll know why. But it is because of the movie Brothers that I have come to see Tobey Maguire as a respectable and capable actor.
So, this movie is about two brothers. Obviously, thus, the plural. One brother Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a respected captain in the United States Marines, and is about to deploy on his fourth tour over in Afghanistan. His brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhall) was just released from prison a short time before Sam heads overseas. This leaves Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman) to tend to her children and keep her spirits up. Of course this can’t be the whole movie, something bad has to happen.
This comes in the form of Sam “dying.” From here Grace must deal with the pressures of life on top of the loss of her husband. And Tommy is there to pick up the pieces. But that’s not all. And I need not say anymore to ruin it.
The acting, I must say, made the movie. Good cinematography that displayed the emotions of the characters, but it really all came together in the characters in the Cahill family. Tobey Maguire was fantastic, definitely worthy of the Golden Globe he was nominated for. His performance towards the end really speaks to the brutality of war and torture and what death and violence can do to a person. Jake Gyllenhall’s performance brought the sensitive side to the movie, in complete opposition of his brother. Natalie Portman (my favorite actress, crush since Star Wars) is fantastic and really plays a mother in grief and distress well. But I’m gonna tell you who stole the movie.
Bailee Madison, Sam Cahill’s oldest daughter was a fantastic actress in this movie. (And she’s actually in a new horror movie I am interested in seeing, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) Her performance alone was the dramatic and plot lynchpin of the entire film. When she cried because she lost the father she knew and loved, I cried too. Her anger and defiance of her father, at such a young age, and to understand what happened, was breathtaking. Along with this, the role change at the end of the movie that’s shown is worth watching. Great acting, shoddy visual work that was barely noticed, and great family dynamic brought this movie together to make for a great film about family and what it means. Definitely an 8.8 out of 10.
Here’s a clip from the movie and interview with Tobey Maguire for a sense of just what his role is and how he portrays the character he does.
So I sat down last night and watched this movie finally. I had thought about seeing it in theaters and decided against. I find myself in the realm of good decisions waiting for this one for DVD. Alright, so to sum up this movie. Scott has an Asian girlfriend, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) and then meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and must defeat her seven evil exes (a reoccurring joke that doesn’t seem funny). The whole movie is shot in a music infused video game style with stylized violence throughout. At first as I watched, I felt, okay, this movie could go PG. Nope. turned PG-13 pretty quickly. A sensual scene here, a swear there, and it turned in to what was a feeble attempt at a PG-13 movie. Edgar Wright did a fantastic job directing and worked well with the style he decided to pursue. Almost all the comedy comes from the visual effects and looks fantastic (one movie I would see in theaters in 3D).
Apart from this, I was greatly distressed by the level of acting in this movie. To start things off, Michael Cera was awful. He came of as a gangly, falsetto pedophile who didn’t belong in the movie. I must say I like Michael Cera, but more Youth in Revolt level acting. He lent his quips and awkward charm to the movie, but to no avail. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was fine, I think she’s beautiful and brought a solid B+ performance to the movie. I loved her in Black Xmas, but that’s for another time. (Horror movies are on a whole other level for me.) Allison Pill came off as extremely annoying, albeit she was Scott’s ex-girlfriend. Mark Webber brought the humor as the band’s erratic and easily frightened front man, although I haven’t seen Mark since Snow Day back in 2000 (that really dates my movie experiences…). Kieran Culkin was fantastic as Scott’s homosexual roommate, Wallace. If I had to compare him to any actor, I would consider him a more refined version of Tobey Maguire.
Some high points of the movie stand out to me which I wasn’t expecting at all. Jason Schwartzman’s small role towards the end was fantastic as Ramona’s strongest evil ex. Although not the typical A-list shizz that he normally does, I enjoyed his part. Let me also just say that Tom Jane’s guest appearance in the movie was badass. I won’t tell you now but, if anything, this movie is worth watching for his cameo. Mae Whitman was fantastic as Ramona’s lesbian phase. I see it as a tribute that they would include Michael Cera’s former ex-girlfriend from Arrested Development, Ann, into the mix. Bravo. To round it off, Chris Evans part was great as the cheesy action film star and all around tool. I’ve liked him in comedies ever since Not Another Teen Movie and he’s always great at it.
All in all, the movie was quite good, but mostly lacking in overall acting and delivery. To have a movie’s visual effects overtake the acting and comedy of the situations of those actors is poor, although this movie wasn’t at all about the acting really. And for that, I give it a 6.6 out of 10.