Review: Mr. Brooks
There's a certain pleasure to be derived from a really gawd-awful movie but Mr. Brooks, Kevin Costner's foray into darker, more complex serial killer drama, is just plain ridiculous. Costner plays "Portland Man of the Year" Earl Brooks whose yuppie-tastic exterior masks a taunting alter ego named Marshall (William Hurt) and a hankering to kill. Demi Moore is the loose-canon, heiress detective hot on Mr. Brooks trail, and Dane Cook plays a wannabe killer who discovers Mr. Brooks identity and blackmails him. Oh and did I mention there's another escaped serial killer loose and on the prowl for Demi? Who knew Oregon was such a scary place to live?
Here's my major problem with this mess of of a movie—where it could be campy, it's utterly serious. Where it could be delightfully baroque, it's merely confused and inconsistent. As much as I would've loved to spend my 2 hours gleefully throwing stale popcorn at the screen while reveling in Costner and company's silliness, Mr. Brooks is actually not over the top enough for such displays. This film desperately wants you to just suspend your incredulity and connect the flimsily associative dots of the plot, but there's too many damn holes.
Like so many crime thriller movies hitting theaters these days, there's way too much going on in the convoluted story. Each detail piles on top of each other like a stack of junk mail, and as the tower grows, one becomes indistinguishable from the next. However in Mr. Brooks' case, many of the individual moments and plot points are so phenomenally, jaw-droppingly bizarre that they come back to you later, gnawing at your insides, willing you to examine them.
In fact, now that I think about it, maybe that's actually his diabolical plan! Perhaps that's Earl Brooks' and his alter ego Marshall's intention all along, and they're laughing at us right now! Nah, this movie just isn't that smart.
After the jump you'll find a sampling of the numerous points which brought me and my viewing companion to the brink of insanity.
- Earl Brooks is a successful box maker, a part-time (though equally successful) maker of artisan pottery maker, and a devoted family man. This dude is so busy he shouldn't have time to shave let alone elaborately stalk and kill strangers.
- The appearances of the taunting, anti-social alter ego Marshall make no sense. First he appears only inside Earl's car, berating him for being weak. Then he's outside of the car, teasing him further. Then he comforts a crying Earl by hugging him? Additionally, Mr. Brooks later fools Marshall into thinking he's going to kill himself rather than continue his murder spree, but then doesn't go through with it. How can Mr. Brooks fool Marshall if Marshall is inside his mind?
- Also, Mr. Brooks doesn't ever seem to disturb anyone (wife, daughter, secretary, Mr. Smith) by supposedly having long, drawn-out discussions in his head with someone else.
- Speaking of Mr. Smith (Dane Cook's character), various characters keep pointing out that he's so smart (he's an engineer, he has a nice yuppie-in-training apartment, etc.) yet everything he does is totally dumb, from peeing at the crime scene to keeping the key to his safe deposit box of incriminating evidence in plain sight in his apartment.
- Mr. Brooks and his 19-year-old daughter Jane are much too close for comfort. She's constantly kissing him on the mouth or throwing her arms around him and then staying that way. Why doesn't anyone tell her this is inappropriate behavior? Ick.
- Is being a serial killer a genetic trait, able to be passed down like eye color? Or is it an addiction, treatable by a 12 step program (wherein you're lying about the details of your addiction)?
- If killing is genetic, does the daughter then also have an alter ego urging her to kill?
- If Tracy is the best detective ever, why didn't she figure out her husband (Jason Lewis) was a total himbo and cheating on her?
- How could Demi possibly be beaten up by a dude twice her size and then thrown from a speeding van through another car's windshield, only come away with a minor cut on her scalp?
- If she's an heiress with $60 million in the bank, why isn't Tracy more famous in Portland? Are there tons of heiress detectives running around town?
By the way, the filmmakers intend for this movie to be the first installment in a trilogy. Be afraid, be very afraid.