Well, it seemed like a good idea ' setting Terry Gilliam loose on The Brothers Grimm. Who better than the director of Time Bandits and The Fisher King to take us on a Brueghelian romp through the fairy tales that have enchanted and disturbed countless generations of Hansels and Gretels? But magic is the one thing that's missing from this overproduced, underwritten, haphazardly directed bedtime story. There are reports of interference from the producers. And maybe Gilliam lost interest. I know I did, about a third of the way through.
Matt Damon and Heath Ledger are the Grimm brothers, less fairy-tale collectors than snake-oil salesmen, moving from town to town in French-occupied Germany, exorcising demons that they themselves have created using the primitive f/x of the time. Then they happen upon a town that's truly under a curse, and all hell breaks loose ' all hell. The movie's so frenetic you wish it would just relax, trust in our willingness to stay tuned from "once upon a time" to "happily ever after." After all, that used to work for Red Riding Hood, who's here reduced to a mere walk-on.