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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Mr. Brooks (review)

Serial killers are people too, with hopes and dreams and loving spouses and kids who drive them crazy. That’s the repulsive theme of this revolting film, which flirts briefly with satire and dark comedy before landing squarely in the realm of made-for-TV melodrama about the challenges and the rewards of balancing career, marriage, parenthood, and a serious avocation for vicious, coldblooded murder. Ugh — I need to be hosed down. Kevin Costner (The Guardian) is desperately not up to the task of Mr. Brooks, the Portland (Oregon) Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year. He makes boxes, and he’s very successful at it, which is, I think, meant to be a metaphor for how “straight” life — ie, life in which he denies his serial-killer side thanks to AA — constrains him. Watch him revel orgasmically in death, though, when his demented alter ego (William Hurt [The Good Shepherd], who probably believed this was going to be a satire) eggs him on to taking up their hobby again. And I haven’t even touched on the ludicrousness of Demi Moore’s (Bobby) millionaire cop, or Dane Cook’s (Mystery Men) nauseating serial-killer groupie. The sadistic, killer-as-hero crap that has infested horror movies aimed at teenagers has, pardon the pun, bleed over into movies intended for adults, a development to be greatly lamented.

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MPAA: rated R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, nudity and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb

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