December 4, 2009, - 1:58 pm
Weekend Box Office: “Brothers” Spits on US Soldiers, Depressing “Everybody’s Fine,” Snuff Film “Armored”
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.
FOUR BIN LADENS PLUS
* “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.
Tags: Armored, brothers, Drew Barrymore, Everybody's Fine, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Beckinsale, Laurance Fishburne, Matt Dillon, Movie Reviews, Natalie Portman, Robert De Niro, Tobey Maguire