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"Mr. Brooks"

Directed by Bruce A. Evans.
Written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon.
Starring Kevin Costner, Dane Cook, Demi Moore and William Hurt.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  6/4/07


Ross and I had similar thoughts about "Mr. Brooks" in the week prior to its opening--hey, this thing looks interesting, but I'll be DAMNED if I'm gonna pay full price to see it.

Hence, when we got an invite to catch this for free last Thursday before its national release, we figured we should check it out...and, after Ross and I got out of the theater, we both had to agree--"Mr. Brooks" is some pretty good shit!

Borrowing a little bit from the model created from films like the Mel Gibson actioner "Payback" a few years ago, "Mr. Brooks" follows a well-adjusted psychopath named Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) who has a good job, a good reputation in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, a lovely wife (Marg Helgenberger), and...a strange habit of killing people for fun when he's not too busy.  In fact, this Brooks guy is quite a character--sure, he's just been named Portland Man of the Year for his efforts in the community, but for chrissakes, he sure does know a lot about killing people!  Did I mention that he often spends time talking to his alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt, channeling his "A History of Violence" character to good effect here)?  Marshall can't be seen by anyone other than Mr. Brooks, yet the two men seem to be having a blast at almost every turn!  Well, after taking a couple of years off between killings, Brooks decides to go off and kill again, but this time, he makes the mistake of killing two people while the curtains are open in the now-dead couple's apartment...and, unlucky for Mr. Brooks, he's spotting by voyeur/photographer "Mr. Smith" (Dane Cook) while cleaning up the mess.

At this point, the film takes an interesting turn, one that fuels the rest of the comedy/drama/thriller all the way to the fantastic finish line...and, it is here that I must say, there's still a shot for some of these Hollywood flicks if they can continue to find that perfect mix of profane, adult-oriented humor with strong acting from its leads and the dose of over-the-top filmmaking that, in spurts, works wonders here.  I'm not saying that "Mr. Brooks" has just locked up the Best Picture Oscar next February; it's not that kind of movie.  It's just great summer adult entertainment, thanks to a calm, assured performance by Costner, one that (slightly) reminds you of what the man brought to the table during his miraculous run in the late 80s and early 90s, when he was just THE MAN.  Hurt and Costner seem to be having fun with this nonsense, and that works, too; even Cook doesn't completely annoy me in this film, whereas in real life, his comedy is nothing but when I've seen him on TV.

The film's glaring weak spot, surprisingly, comes in the form of Demi Moore, who is playing a cop who is on the trail of Brooks as his work gets a little sloppy.  By trying to give us something else to do while playing out the Brooks/Smith storyline, the filmmakers do an incredibly poor job of fleshing out the Moore character, not for lack of effort or scripting, but poorly in terms of interfering with the Brooks/Smith storyline, which is infinitely more interesting.  Okay, great--the cop is going through a nasty divorce.  Okay, great--the cop, who's loaded, is going to have to go through a nasty settlement.  Okay, great--the cop made enemies by piling up arrests over her career, and now, a bad guy from her past is on the loose.  Yawn--there's a shootout so poor late in this movie featuring the Moore character that I couldn't help but think during the two minutes it took up, "how the FUCK do trained professional miss shots from about 15 feet away, with a target who's already wounded?  Does it really take three clips to make this happen?  Even if it does, should that ever happen in the movies???"

Ugh.  This takes up a solid 30 minutes of the film in spurts, and if it had all been changed to five minutes of a cop-like character following hot on the heels of the Brooks/Smith storyline, that would have been just fine.  But, you've got Moore, you've got to pay her, she still looks pretty good...blah!  Otherwise, "Mr. Brooks" is great, and instead of going to see one of the three shitastic threequels out in theaters right now, check out something that isn't a complete insult to your intellect.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09