Is the "Brothers" movie a big, Ugly Military Stereotype, or is that just the trailer?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Please take a moment to look at this synopsis for a movie called "Brothers," with Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tobey Maguire:
When a decorated Marine goes missing overseas, his black-sheep younger brother cares for his wife and children at home—with consequences that will shake the foundation of the entire family. BROTHERS tells the powerful story of two siblings, thirtysomething Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) and younger brother Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal), who are polar opposites. A Marine about to embark on his fourth tour of duty, Sam is a steadfast family man married to his high school sweetheart, the aptly named Grace (Natalie Portman), with whom he has two young daughters (Bailee Madison, Taylor Grace Geare). Tommy, his charismatic younger brother, is a drifter just out of jail who’s always gotten by on wit and charm. He slides easily into his role as family provocateur on his first night out of prison, at Sam’s farewell dinner with their parents, Elsie (Mare Winningham) and Hank Cahill (Sam Shepard), a retired Marine.
I haven't seen the film but a cursory examination of the trailer suggests a movie chock full of wistful looks between former child-actor Natalie Portman (not only beautiful but hey -- she went to Harvard!), dreamy Jake Gyllenhaal (not just dreamy, but military cred from Jarhead! and acting chops from Brokeback Mountain!), interspersed with what looks like an epic spazzing out session by recently returned Marine Tobey Maguire (Showing the same dark side he showed us in Spiderman 3!). Of course you can't judge a movie from it's trailer. It's entirely possible that this is a thought provoking film about the difficulties servicemen and women have on returning from a combat zone with PTSD, and reintegrating into family and civilian life. More likely, I think, is the possibility that this is just another Big Hollywood movie that stereotypes soldiers or Marines as angry (because the military is where people go when they can't get into prison!), humorless men (which is why they don't go to college!) who scream a lot, beat up on family members, hate hippies (because they hate their own latent homosexuality!), throw dishes for no good reason at all, and beat up on women and little brothers. Okay, well, I never actually saw Tobey's character beating up on Jake's or Natalie's characters, but I definitely got the feeling that if he didn't, then he was like, THIS CLOSE to pulling out his belt and using those awesome hurt skilz (Because the Marine Corps brainwashes hurt skilz into their paid killers using psychotropic drugs! (Jacob's Ladder!)). Even more stereotyped is the shortened version of the trailer, which they showed during a commercial break in the Steelers Ravens game. The short trailer is only about 10 seconds long. It's pretty much all yelling and screaming and throwing dishes by Tobey, without the leavening influence of wistful looks from Jake and Natalie. Because they only had 10 seconds, dig? So they had to get in the important stuff? The stuff people want to see? The stuff we can't get enough of? You know, like flipped out, mentally unbalanced servicemen with PTSD! So even if the movie is thoughtful and sensitve and has something interesting to say, I'm kind of hoping it fails miserably because of the studios' very Jody-like marketing tactics. I'm hoping that I'll see it in the $3 bin at Blockbuster soon. Right next to "Redacted."
-- Uber Pig
PS: If anyone has a way to get a copy of the shortened version of the trailer, I'd love to put it up to better illustrate my point. Here's the longer version: