THE BROTHERS GRIMM
*1/2 (out of 5)
January 28, 2005
Robert DeNiro as DAVID CALLAWAY
Dakota Fanning as EMILY CALLAWAY
Famke Janssen as KATHERINE
Elisabeth Shue as ELIZABETH
Amy Irving as ALISON CALLAWAY
Dylan Baker as SHERIFF HAFFERTY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: John Polson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
As far as actors go, I greatly respect those that look at their career as a job. For all intents and purposes, these folks work on a freelance basis, and as a freelancer myself, I know that you are at the financial whim of your upcoming projects. Both Gene Hackman and Michael Caine have basically said that they took any role that came their way in order to keep working. This makes sense of godawful releases like “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” and “Deathtrap” (with posthumous apologies to Christopher Reeve, who was in both of these stinkers).
It seems that now, Robert DeNiro is living this statement. There is no doubt that DeNiro has been an awesome presence in American cinema over the years. His contributions to the gangster films alone have been monumental. But now, he’s shown up in some real crap the past few years. Most recently, we saw him in the turkey “The Godsend.” Now, he is doing it again with “Hide and Seek.”
“Hide and Seek” is a stellar example of the fact that the best acting in the universe cannot help a poor script – or poor direction. Not only is a living legend like DeNiro headlining this film, but one of the best up-and-coming actresses in the business joins him. No, I’m not talking about Elisabeth Shue, who brings her considerable mediocrity to the movie. I’m talking about Dakota Fanning, who has charmed her way through otherwise lame films like “The Cat in the Hat.”
Dakota Fanning is a brilliant little actor. And under the guide of a good director, like Tony Scott in “Man on Fire,” she really can excel. However, her talents are wasted in “Hide and Seek.” You may not recognize Fanning immediately because her normally cherub-like blonde hair has been dyed black. While it might be argued that her new do is a way to distance her character from others she’s played in the past, I saw it as a cheap way to make her look creepy.
Director John Polson must have watched “The Addam’s Family” movie one too many times because it’s blindingly obvious that he wants Fanning to channel Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams. Unfortunately, Polson wastes all opportunities for Fanning to act. Rather, he just uses her as a movable prop that he can light in a creepy way and simply have her make a menacing entrance.
The set-up of “Hide and Seek” isn’t that bad. David Callaway (DeNiro) has just lost his wife (Amy Irving) to suicide, and he decides to move with his daughter Emily (Fanning) to the country to avoid all the reminders of their old home. However, once they move into their new house, Emily suddenly meets a new friend – an imaginary friend called Charlie.
David is initially concerned about Charlie, presumably thinking that he may be a real man trying to impose himself on his daughter. However, he soon accepts the fact that Charlie is most likely imaginary. But when Emily starts exhibiting gross misbehavior at the direction of Charlie, David decides to find out more about this imaginary friend.
The set-up isn’t the problem. With most thrillers, the real problem is the ending. Last year, movie audiences were assaulted with the blazingly awful “Secret Window.” The previews to that film revealed a voice over that talked about how important an ending to a movie is. In fact, it said that people will forgive almost anything in a movie as long as there’s a good ending.
Well, let’s just say you won’t be forgiving anyone for anything in “Hide and Seek.” The ending is terrible. The surprise reveal is weak and stifled. It’s one of those endings that, thinking back to the rest of the film, it just doesn’t work out right. “Hide and Seek” tries to be a new “The Sixth Sense,” but without M. Night Shyamalan’s expert touch – or strong writing.
And the ending wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take so long. Once the reveal happens, the movie should end. But the movie just keeps going and going and going, as if we cared or even were interested.