December 4, 2009, - 1:58 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Brothers” Spits on US Soldiers, Depressing “Everybody’s Fine,” Snuff Film “Armored”

By Debbie Schlussel

If you’re smart, you’ll skip all three of the new offerings at the movies, this weekend.  I was disgusted and horrified by all three of them.  They are so bad that I’m giving spoilers about what happens in each movie. You’ll thank me for saving you from these horrible experiences that they call “holiday season movies,” but which are anything but.  To do anything but tell you the truth about this cinematic excrement would be a disservice. So, let this serve as my . . .

****  SPOILER ALERT.  ****



* “Brothers“:  This movie spits in the faces of our many heroic American soldiers serving in wars overseas, living and dead.  While we know that in real life, there have been several cases of American soldiers giving their own lives to save those of their fellow troops, jumping on IEDs, grenades, etc., this movie portrays the exact opposite:  a commanding officer (Tobey Maguire of “Spiderman” fame) who beats his fellow soldier to death to survive while in the captivity of Muslim terrorists.  It’s disgusting and a disgrace.  He then comes home, goes nuts, accuses his ex-con brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) of sleeping with his wife, tries to kill him, tries to commit suicide, then gets sent to a mental hospital.

Oh, and the ex-con bank robber brother is the good guy in this movie, the Marine a piece of crap killer and nutjob.  Thanks, Hollywood.

It figures that critics are raving over this piece of utter garbage that carries the melodrama of a Lifetime movie of the week times ten, and the hatred of America’s servicemen of a gazillion William Ayerses.  The message is that if you serve our country, you’ll brutally murder your fellow soldiers to survive and then go nuts.  Haven’t we had enough of these movies already?  Isn’t this the same message as the Tommy Lee Jones bomb, “In the Valley of Elah (read my review and USA Today coverage of Schlussel v. Jones)”?  Expect this garbage dump to make the rounds come Oscar time.

Based on the 2004 Danish film, “Broder,” “Brothers” begins with Maguire, the Marine, war hero, and favored son, going to prison to pick up his brother,  Gyllenhaal, upon his release from prison.  Maguire is about to ship off to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty, and he is loved and revered by their Marine Vietnam veteran father.  Gyllenhaal is a drunken loser and criminal who is hated by their father.

Maguire is on his way to the base, when his helicopter is shot down over Kandahar, and he and the one surviving Marine under his command, a friend of his, are presumed dead.  Maguire’s wife, Natalie Portman, grieves, and a funeral is held.  Soon, Gyllenhaal takes Maguire’s place and becomes close to Portman . . . very close.  Meanwhile, Maguire and the private under his command, Joe, are held prisoner by an Afghani terrorist mullah and his minions.  Joe is tortured and repeatedly ordered by Maguire to forget his family and never disclose any information to the terrorists.  Maguire hears the screams from his underground cell.  Then, Maguire is taken out from his cell and told he has a choice:  if he wants to see his family, he can kill Joe, or he will be killed instead.  Maguire, the Marine hero, violently beats the Marine under his command to death with a steel rod.

Then, Maguire is rescued by U.S. troops, returns home, repeatedly accuses his brother of sleeping with his wife (they only kissed), goes completely crazy, and tries to kill his brother, then himself, gets committed to a mental hospital.  The end.  And that’s not to mention that there is more screaming and yelling, crying, and high stress family strife in this movie than all 25 seasons of Oprah and all the Melissa Gilbert TV movies, combined.

High quality Bin Laden cinema and, again, a stick in the eye of all of those real-life brave Marines and other U.S. soldiers who heroically gave their lives so that their fellow troops could return home alive to see their families.

Just sickening.


* “Everybody’s Fine“:  This is possibly the biggest bait-and-switch scam Hollywood has ever pulled with a movie.  The trailers and ads show a smiling Robert De Niro with cheery kids, including Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale, and is supposed to be a pleasant “holiday movie.”  Not even close.  Instead, it’s a two-hour exercise in the depressing, acted in by people who clearly wanted a quick paycheck.

Robert De Niro plays a recently-widowed father who travels around the country to meet up with his adult children, when they all cancel invitations for a family get-together weekend at home.  He is sick and needs to take medication constantly or he could die.  He soon learns that not only aren’t his grown-up kids living the fabulous lives they told him they were living, they are all living horribly depressing lives.  One son is a drug addict stuck in Mexico, a daughter (Beckinsale) is an unhappy wife who is divorcing after her husband cheated on her, and another daughter (Barrymore) is a single mother waittress in Vegas who doesn’t have a nice place to live and thinks she might be a lesbian.

Oh, and the son, who is a drug addict, well  he dies.  Pops De Niro learns of this when he comes out of a coma after having a heart attack on a flight home.  Happy holidays/Merry Christmas!  The “happy” ending of all the surviving kids getting together with Dad for Christmas at the end of the movie doesn’t make this movie any more cheery, pleasant, or even bearable.

The only good part of the movie is at the very beginning when De Niro, shopping for wine at a supermarket, inquires about choice wines from the stock boy.  He responds, “We have great English wines from all over France.  We also have terrific Italian wines from all over Europe.”  And that’s as funny as it gets.  The rest is just a depressing sob-fest.  Let’s hear it for holiday-cheer, Hollywood -style.  The people who made this make the De Niro’s other family, the Corleones, look like sentimental humanitarians.

Everybody’s Fine . . . if they skip this movie.


* “Armored“:  This was not screened for critics, usually a sign that it’s a dud.  And I should have taken the hint.  So that I could review it for you and those who hear my reviews on Sirius Patriot Channel’s “The Mike Church Show,” I caught the Midnight showing of this, late last night.  Big mistake.

What could have been a great caper movie was instead a long, boring exercise in human slaughter, torture, cop-killing and other violence.  I’m shocked this only got a PG-13 rating.  It requires an R-rating without question.  While an Iraq war veteran is ultimately the hero in this snoozefest paean to bloodsport, that wasn’t enough to make this movie even a tad likeable.  This is nothing more than a big studio snuff film.

A group of armored truck security guards (Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, and lesser known others who needed a paycheck) decide to fake a robbery of their truck so that they can steal the millions in cash being transported.  But the plan goes horribly wrong, and soon they are shooting, stabbing, and otherwise killing many people, including several in their corrupt crew.  But one guard, an Iraq veteran who is unsure about “all the innocent people we killed in Iraq,” suddenly gets a conscience and wants out.  He tries to save a dying police officer shot by one of the other guards, while the other guards go and kidnap his son and threaten to torture him.

Yeah, this is a real party . . . if you like to watch sadistic torture and killing of innocent and not-so-innocent people for no reason.  For the rest of us, it’s a giant piece of crap.


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34 Responses

Oh, Natalie Hershlag, how could you !?

Martin on December 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    She is a Harvard grad – what do you expect? And Gyllenhall is the nephew of the awful Eric Foner of Columbia University, a “historian” who hates the USA.

    JulieJ on December 7, 2009 at 10:10 am

Is a Bin Laden better or worse than a Marx?

Chris on December 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm

“Brothers” is the liberal view of our military – they loathe it. And they don’t like to win wars. They like to lose them. The film’s subtext message is that we’re morally equivalent to the Taliban and we have no good reason to defeat them. That’s why its high quality Bin Laden cinema. This is how the Left thinks of those who serve which such sacrifice and dedication our country – they have no appreciation and respect for those under arms. As Debbie noted in her review, this isn’t the first such movie to portray the military as a bunch of rootless, crazy and savage killer thugs and sad to say, it won’t be the last.

NormanF on December 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Tell us how you really feel Debbie. Don’t hold back now.
In general (maybe not in these 3) the Hollywood pagan priests are telling you the truth, but ONLY ONLY if you have “eyes to see and ears to hear to hear”. Sound familiar?

John R on December 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

A Marx film is a piece of crap. A Bin Laden film is just extremely well done enemy propaganda. Goes without saying its also garbage!

NormanF on December 4, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I refuse to watch anything with Porkman and Jell-ohall. All 3 of them are libs. Portman is a Obama nutswinger, Gylenhall…well, Debbie knows all about his family and Maguire is an avid vegan. My wife said she wouldnt mind seeing it…and she’s a CONSERVATIVE!! I convinced her not to because it’s just enemy propaganda and bashes our great military.

James on December 4, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I’m also sick of these Hollyweird types who are against the war in Iraq but are obliged to take money for portraying one on film. I know Matt Damon has a movie coming up and he plays a soldier in Iraq. It all started when Stallone (a Nam draft dodger) played Rambo.

    James on December 4, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Oh, dear, this is why I rarely go to the movies. If I want to be slimed I’ll just roll around in a pig sty and then shower. I’ll get the same feeling without wasting my hard-earned money.

JeffT on December 4, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Debbie…had you truly expressed your feelings, you would have added the “plus Obama”.

I still chuckle over that rating.

Be well


jwb on December 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I seldom watch movies. I liked the last Die Hard movie where McClane takes down hackers. Would have been better if the evil guys had been Islamist terrorists but Hollywood will never offend Islam.

NormanF on December 4, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Well,I’m not planning on seeing those movies. I’m waiting to see “The Princess and the Frog,”a Walt Disney movie that by the looks of it,is going to be a success. I hope you review it. So long for now.

Ghostwriter on December 4, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Thanks for telling me the ending of Brothers. I love it when reviewers do that. It’s so helpful. Now i don’t have to watch the film. Could you do that with all the movies you review so I don’t have to watch any of them. Then i could spend more time being scared of people who a slightly different from me. That would be awesome Debbie!
You’re reviews are my favorite part of every Friday. Thanks for being you!!

Adam on December 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Did you even read her caveat at the beginning or was this just another excuse to slam Debbie S. on her own website?

    Jeremy S on December 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Hey, you do not have to come to this site, much less read its contents. Debbie performs this service to save people who do not like anti-American bilge or other sludge films from having to blow the money it costs to seem them. Once again, no one is chaining you to this site.

    Worry01 on December 7, 2009 at 2:21 am

Brothers will sell for the same reason books that include the words “they don’t want you to know” in the title sell. Millions of Americans feel small, powerless, and insignificant to the point where every personal failure and disappointment is interpreted as the result of evil, conspiratorial forces. Watching a movie like “Brothers” makes audience members feel as though someone is on their side by exposing the hypocrisy of the big, evil, war mongering American government.

Besides, Natalie Portman facilitates the formation of male fantasies.

The Terrorist's Advocate on December 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Yeah, well this American doesn’t give a crap about conspiracies, I don’t feel small, and powerless, and btw: Natalie Portman isn’t even that cute :/p.

    Jeremy S on December 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Thank you Debbie for warning us about this terriable crop of crap.
Once again you had to fall on your sword to save us from the horriable fate of spending our hard earned money on nonsense.
Actually nonsense would have been an improvemnt over these stinkers.
I don’t envy your job, but I certainly appreciate it.

smg45acp on December 5, 2009 at 8:40 am

You and I may not bother to watch “Brothers” but there are large numbers of Americans who find something very attractive about violent psychopaths. Witness the financial success of the alphabet soup of violent psychopaths: UFC, NFL, WWE, etc.

The Terrorist's Advocate on December 5, 2009 at 8:44 am

Mmm, you can practically taste the victimhood complex on this blog and in the comments.

dk on December 5, 2009 at 9:50 am

Four plus bin ladens! Love that. Haven’t seen it before but how fitting.

Hollywood can burn for all I care. Makes me sick to think they enjoy the same protection by the military that I do.

Joe on December 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

Tobey Maguire as a marine? I’d rather see a young Shirley Temple as a mafia capo. That would be just as believable. I’m sick of the deranged vet scenario and the idea of having sex with your recently dead husband’s jailbird brother is just sick. I hope this thing bombs.

daisy on December 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

Thank you, Debbie. Excellent reviews as always! DK, why are you making whiny comments on a site antithetical to your politics–enjoy being a victim?

I hated Armored for all the reasons you listed, Debbie. It’s mechanically predictable, unpleasant, and on top of that includes a strong liberal subtext (the “good old boys” who appear to be regular Joes and family men are actually greedy slime, whereas the sensitive, wiser African-American vet who indulgently lets his teen son spray-paint pictures all over his living room is the one with integrity).

Not surprisingly, I also agree with your pan of Everybody’s Fine. There’s no blatant liberal subtext, it seems to me, except the obvious one of promoting men as motherly relationship-builders. As you say, depressing up until the last ten minutes (strong passive emotions purge us all, don’t you know?)

I happened to see Transylmania, too, and I’ll mention my take–a hedonistic, teen-centered film of the same type as Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, full of lots of
recreational drugs, sexual perversion and promiscuity, horse farts (this gag stolen from Young Frankenstein), dismembered body parts, “gross” accidental kissing of a guy thinking she’s a gal, etc. Sound enticing? The one thing I enjoyed about
this film was realizing that liberal critics watching it would probably hate it even more than I did (because there’s no talk of global warming or community activism).

As for Brothers, I admit I personally liked this film (strange, considering I’m–can’t you guess?– a conservative). Sidney Lumet fondly described his recent Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) as a “melodrama.” That’s what this film is, as you point out–a melodrama; but I thought it was well done, not afraid of old-fashioned qualities of character like honor, shame, and loyalty to family. Not a moment squandered, and extremely intense. I didn’t think the film slammed the military any more than Conrad’s Lord Jim slammed the English navy. Gyllenhaal cracks under very extreme pressure and is deeply, deeply shamed; watching him caused me to personally love and honor our military (and particularly our POWs) all the more. Furthermore it made me HATE the Taliban in Afghanistan, and how many Hollywood movies have that effect?

Debbie, heard you referenced as an authority over at a Hot Air blog comment yesterday. You get around!

Burke on December 5, 2009 at 11:22 am

wow and wow. tis why I dont care for hollyweird. everytime we/I try to hit a movie this is what happens! I dont care for those above actors in any of the 3 stinkers, anyways.

lindapolver on December 5, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Debbie you are the conservative cinema critic version of FOXWATCH – you check out and review these rubbish movies so the rest of us don’t have to..awesome and thanks !

mrbshamrock on December 6, 2009 at 5:58 am

oh my, Jeremy S one of your posts was directed at me. I’m so sorry if you took what i wrote the wrong way, tone is often so hard to get across in comments such as these.
I do truly and honestly love Debbie’s reviews. I do love it when reviewers give the endings of films away. It make is so much easier to discuss them without watching them. Particularly those such as Brothers that, judging by the review, I certainly would not want to watch. Now I can appear knowledgeable about it without actually having experience or any real understanding of it.

Adam on December 6, 2009 at 6:40 am

I saw Brothers last night. From Debbie’s review, I not sure she even watched the film. The marine was completely sympathetic. The only party that was portrayed negatively were the Afgani terrorists, who everyone wanted to destroy by the end of the movie. It was a great film.
P.S. I’m a conservative who is often disgusted by media and Hollywood liberal bias.

Erica Smith on December 6, 2009 at 11:56 am

Could Brothers be seen as a movie that points out the
need for more troops in Afghanistan to support the folks already over there so our brave Marines would not be put in a situation like this to start with? What if the movie was the catalyst that pressured Obama into making that decision for the troops? I am not saying it did but it could have had influence similar to the Howard Hughs movie influence on war for the US at the time?

Roy Laughlin on December 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    No, the message is that people in the military are psychotice, corrupt, inherently evil, or all of the above. That is what a move like “Brothers” portrays military personnel as. Also, as a predictable twist, the ex-con is the only decent person in the end. The plain message is that a convicted felon is a better person than someone in a military uniform.

    Worry01 on December 7, 2009 at 2:26 am

More movies I have no interest in watching. Oscarbait is hardly ever watchable. On the other, I watched “Doomsday” with Rhona Mitra last night, and it was Good. Brits and Scotts doing the work Hollywood won’t do.

Douglas Q on December 6, 2009 at 4:25 pm

“Everybody’s Fine” is the sort of holiday movie that would induce most people to cut their wrists and expire in their motel room if they had such a family.

Worry01 on December 7, 2009 at 2:35 am

Remember when Hollywood made films that actually were positive about the military? It amazes me how this kind of dreck gets made. What pinhead gives this crap the greenlight?

I’m going about all wrong- As a obscure writer trying to push what I feel is a quality screenplay, I need to go back and trash them up with a re-write that deficates on humanity

ward on December 7, 2009 at 8:17 am

I just saw Transformers 2. I can’t believe the left is trying to convince us that we are under attack by transforming robots from space. Those bastards!

Wait, these reviews are serious? I thought they were a joke.

People – they’re movies. Its fiction. The grinch didn’t really steal Christmas and there wasn’t really a death star.

Unless that’s just what those commie leftists want us to believe. Gasp! Get a life.

MisterA on December 7, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Wow wow, truly wow. Did you see the film it in no way potrayed Maguires character as this evil guy. It potrayed Islamic Insurgents as one dimensional bad guys and gave no reason as to why they commit the evil acts they do. They were bad because they were bad. Maguire however was forced to commit his horrible act because of being forced to by these bad bad Islamic types. So the audience are meant to feel sympathy for him as we can understand and see what drove him to commit it. The muslims do not get no such luck, just to be pantomine villians. And Gyllenhals character was unpatriotic and because of that was lazy, a loser and a criminal. This film was so packed full of right wing bias, and the lazy racism that dogs Hollywood that if you did not see it you must be so amazingly blinded it is frankly quite shocking.

LiamC on April 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

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