There's a lot to be said for making a fantastic trailer (see Whopper trailer). I first saw the trailer for Brothers at the theater this summer. I was in awe. Tonight was the first time since the summer that I sat down and decided it would be nice to take in a movie. When I went to see what was out, I saw that Brothers was playing and there was no decision to be made. I was there.
Now there are good trailers and then there are good movies. Brothers had both. There are many things that came together to make this movie good. Here are some of them. It started off with the setting of a normal family, and for some reason (the personalities, the writing, etc.) I fell in love with Sam, Grace, Maggie and Isabelle. It does help when Grace, the wife and mother, is played by the fantastic Natalie Portman. The ability to get attached so quickly, especially to Sam, gives the audience a comfort that they will need to bring about certain other feelings later on in the film.
After Sam, played by Tobey Maguire, leaves to go back to the war in Afghanistan we start to see both stories simultaneously as they cut back and forth. It feels as if Sam's (quote un quote) death comes immediately after he leaves and that's when the next phase comes into play. Uncle Tommy, who has recently been released from prison, comes in to help the family in what seems as a way to make up for all the screwing up he has done over the years. It's either that or to prove that Sam wasn't the only one who could be counted on. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays utter coolness in the role of Tommy and builds an unbelievable rapport with the children, Maggie and Izabelle. As Tommy does more and more for Grace and the kids, I fell more and more in love with the idea of the being a family together. We saw Sam being good with the kids before he left for war, but not this good. To me, it was this conflict for the audience to decide who deserved the family more that got the juices flowing.
What was surprising to me was how much I also enjoyed the war scenes. Right after Sam's chopper goes down and Grace hears word on his death, we see that Sam is alive. He is captured and imprisoned. You have to sit on the edge of your seat to wonder how he is going to get out alive. You, well I guess I, was so intrigued by every move he made in that it was going to reveal more and more about his character. At first he was so calm and confident, but by the end of his stay in Afghanistan he did one particularly awful thing. It was to save his own life and get back to his family, but is that right? Would you have done something different in that situation? Would I? Probably not. It was this event that kept him alive long enough to get him saved, but it was also probably mainly this event that made him the way he was when he returned.
Back at the ranch we had a fantastic scene between Tommy and Grace. After the two make fun of who each other were in high school (Grace a cheerleader and Tommy getting drunk and into fights), they share a moment with some pot and then lock lips with a big smooch. It ended there and they both knew that it was wrong and left the scene immediately. Both vulnerable, and both knew that the mature thing was to not move forward even though they made a much better couple than Grace and Sam did.
What's this? Sam finally comes home after being rescued by his fellow Marines. The dude is messed up from the word go. Within the first half of a day back he comes up with "did you eff her?" to Tommy. I saw the way you guys were out there skating. Are you joking? How is that your first thought? I know you're messed up, but isn't that the last thing you suspect to have happened, not the first?
After Sam has major troubles throughout his time back, we get to the great scenes that we saw in the trailer way back when. Sure the dinner scenes in Talladega Nights and Step Brothers were fantastic, but this one may have taken the cake. Izabelle has had it with Maggie getting all of the good birthday presents, and she really can't stand how scary and boring her daddy has been acting. As she viciously takes her frustrations out on a balloon, by rubbing it to make a loud noise, Sam seems to get upset as well. Him snapping at her, and popping the balloon in her face, leads to these comments by the little girl...
"Why couldn't you stay dead?!?"
"You're just mad 'cause Mommy would rather sleep with Uncle Tommy than you!"
"Uncle Tommy and Mommy have sex all the time!"
Then upstairs she tells her mom...
"I don't like Dad. I'd rather have Uncle Tommy around."
Maggie chips in, "Me too."
*Ending Spoiler Alert From Here On Out*
The scene that we all were waiting for. Sam loses it, pulls a gun out and points it at Tommy. After hearing police sirens (that Tommy called ahead of time) he walks out to the driveway where we see him screaming and yelling about "WHAT HE'S DONE!!!" This is what drove the entire trailer to that fantastic level. After firing the gun once in the air to get the cops to back off, he points it at his head. I literally held my breath for the next 15-20 seconds as I waited for him to pull the trigger. I thought he was gonna do it. I thought to myself, what a fantastic job by not putting the fact that he kills himself in the trailer. But then he lowers the gun and gets taken into custody.
I was then waiting for something big to happen. Some big revelation that would make the movie even better than what the trailer made it out to be. But it kind of quickly leveled off and ended. Sam's in treatment at some prison/hospital I'm assuming and he gets to see Grace. He finally tells her that he killed the other marine in Afghanistan. Are we supposed to assume that he's on the road to recovery now? That's he basically all better? What about Uncle Tommy and Grace? Are we just supposed to be okay with them never mentioning their feelings for each other again? He'll go on being just Uncle Tommy forever? I needed a little more on that end of things at the end.
All in all it lived up to the trailer, but didn't go above and beyond what I was expecting.