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Mr. Brooks

A movie directed by Bruce A. Evans

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Mr. Brooks Kills Me!

  • Dec 30, 2007
  • by
Two hours of non-stop anxiety . . . that pretty much sums up Bruce Evan's psychological jaunt, "Mr. Brooks" starring Kevin Costner in the title role. Earl Brooks has just been named businessman of the year. The owner of a carton manufacturing firm, he lives quite the life; married to the more than attractive Marg Helgenberger with a fine Portland, Oregon home, and a cutsey-tootsey college aged daughter who wants nothing but to quit school and get down to business, following in her father's illustrious footsteps. Calm and collected as only Kevin Costner can play it, Earl seems a portrait of the all American dream incarnate.

Except for one thing--he blows off steam in a profoundly interesting way. Reminiscent of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho, Earl cruises about town accompanied by Marshall (the diabolically amusing William Hurt) the definitive backseat driver who acts not only as Earl's confidant but the ultimate pusher--egging Earl to treat himself to a little well-deserved R&R--in the form of a well-planned murder. In fact, Earl has stymied the police for years--known as the Thumbprint Killer, he remains virtually undetectable.

Cleverly Marshall acts ala Howard and Glazer's "A Beautiful Mind," as Earl's other persona--existing only in Earl's mind but entirely visible to the audience. Together Hurt and Costner gleefully feed off each other in a titillating pas-de-deux that illuminates the dark side of the typical Costner role. Usually taciturn and noble, this Costner plans his murders with a fiendish abandon while Hurt plays the goading devil's advocate. As the brains and catalyst, Hurt often enables with the frenetic energy of a naughty child; Costner brilliantly plays his part with more stoicism, but frequently and delightfully cannot contain himself. His bursts of maniac laughter are well worth the price of admission.

Alas, all good fun must come to an end when the criminal duo commits a faux pas that has the potential to bring them down. Voyeur photographer Mr. Smith (comedian Dane Cook) captures Earl on film at the scene of the crime. He desires a small recompense for keeping his mouth shut--Earl's watcher fancies himself as a serial killer wannabe. His price for silence?--being able to participate in the next murder and learn from Earl's years of grisly experience.

In addition to this, Mr. Brooks must attend to a little problem on the home front. Imagine the tumultuous conversation between Earl and Marshal when Earl sniffs blood on Daughter Dearest's hands and comes to the rather 21st century conclusion that he has passed on his murder addiction to her genetically.

What a hoot! An extremely tired looking Demi Moore ups the fascination ante as the police officer that swears to apprehend the Thumbprint Killer. Burdened by a wayward husband and side issues of her own, her character, albeit it as ludicrous as the rest maintains this wild ride's momentum to the very end.

Most satisfactory however remains Kevin Costner. An actor that I have never liked, he excels in this role, shining like a multi-faceted jewel, he shifts from stodgy and austere, distraught and distracted to frenetic and abstracted. Brilliant! Bravo, Mr. Costner.

Okay, the film may suffer from a little too many plot twists and turns. But rather than make this film less enjoyable, this overkill technique serves to render "Mr. Brooks" with a graphic novel-esque feel not unlike `A History of Violence', especially with Hurt again hamming it up in a campy cameo type performance that is hard to beat. In the same comic book sense, the idea that murder can be a byproduct of success like alcoholism or white collar drug addiction and curbed by regular meetings at the local AA hammers my funny bone to the point where I cannot stop giggling and letting out an occasional howl that sounds much too similar to the vulgar laughter Hurt and Costner share while in Marshal and Earl personae.

Bottom line? `Mr. Brooks' sparkles with a Sweeney Todd type humor that toys with the graphic novel technique employed in "A History of Violence." Costner surprises the audience with a nuanced performance well worth looking at more than once. Hurt cannot disappoint; he cannot be more superb. Not for everyone, especially with its themes of serial killings and violence, I, nonetheless recommend "Mr. Brooks" wholeheartedly and unabashedly.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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More Mr. Brooks reviews
review by . December 13, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Mr. Brooks has a disease: he is addicted to murder. He tries to treat himself by going to AA meetings and prayer, but eventually he will give in. His alter-ego, played quite well by William Hurt, is the side of him that he doesn't like to let out. The chemistry between his two selves works well -- and the filmmakers do a good job allowing his conversations with his other self to integrate seemlessly into the action, so that he can think out loud in the presence of others and not be heard. To others …
review by . October 16, 2008
Pros: interplay between Hurt & Costner     Cons: ...     The Bottom Line:   "To bow out at the end   With a dignity only   A murder can bring   With sweet violation   That versatile thing"  ~The Copper Temple Clause           Mr. Brooks was a delightful little romp, quite bizarre, into the life of Earl Brooks. Outwardly he is a successful businessman. …
review by . December 16, 2007
"If I thought my reply were meant for one/ who ever could return into the world,/ This flame would stir no more; and yet, since none/--if what I hear is true--ever returned/ Alive from this abyss, then without fear/Of facing infamy, I answer you" Dante's `Inferno' Canto 27, lines 61-66    (2 1/2 *'s) Enjoying `Mr. Brooks' in many ways has to do with your take on Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner). At first conversing with his alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt), one wonders if he has …
review by . October 25, 2007
MR. BROOKS is a surprisingly good film, one that from the response of critics and audiences at the time of the theatrical release last Spring might make the casual viewer pass by the DVD. But step into this strange world of the successful, philanthropic, loving husband and father Mr. Brooks and discover one of the more clever twists on the themes of addiction and serial killings, courtesy of a smart script by writer/director Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon.     Earl Brooks …
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #167
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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Kevin Costner as a warped serial killer, a pillar of the community whose dark side is embodied by an on-screen William Hurt? You have to admit, it sounds intriguing, right?Mr. Brooksis the vehicle for this unsavory story, and it turns out to be a lot less kicky than it sounds. Mr. Brooks is a Portland, Oregon tycoon and philanthropist whose "addiction" to murder is suddenly re-surfacing--with plenty of help from his sneering alter ego, who generally sits in the back of the car, goading Mr. Brooks on. (The other characters can't see William Hurt in all this, of course.) The unbelievably convoluted plot has Mr. Brooks confronted by a blackmailer (comedian Dane Cook) who has a surprising twist on things, and trailed by a cop (Demi Moore) who comes equipped with her own set of professional and marital woes. As if that weren't enough, when Brooks's daughter (Danielle Panabaker) comes home, it becomes clear that some traits run in the family.

The scenes with Costner and Hurt are the best stuff in the film, even if director Bruce Evans can't figure out how to play fair visualizing their presence to others. But the script, which among other whoppers make Demi Moore's character a millionaire, is just too unbelievable to stomach. If William Hurt's character provided a running commentary for this movie, there wouldn't be anything left after he got through mocking it. --Robert Horton

The Cast of Mr. Brooks
Kevin Costner

William Hurt

Demi Moore

Dane Cook

Marg Helgenberger


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Director: Bruce A. Evans
DVD Release Date: October 23, 2007
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
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