Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The first time I saw ‘Mr. Brooks’ in theaters a few months back I absolutely fell in love with the subversiveness of it all, but I never did get around to writing the review, probably because I was just too damn lazy. But then how can one find time to write a review of ‘Super Croc’, possibly the worst movie ever made and not find the time to scribble down something for a movie this same person actually liked? Who knows? Regardless with ‘Mr. Brooks’ being released to DVD this is one that’s going in my personal collection, and after re-watching it one more time again I still must say this one of my favorite movies. It has some issues, just like Mr. Brooks himself, but who knew that hanging out with a sociopathic serial killer could be so much fun.

Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) seems like a pretty regular guy as he is a good husband with a beautiful wife (Marg Helgenberger), has a great vocation as the owner of his own box factory, has recently been named Portland Oregon’s Man of the Year and is a good father to his troublesome daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker). Unfortunately Earl also has Marshall (William Hurt). Marshall is very pleasant and charming man who only Earl can see that feeds Earls addiction to murder. Earl knows killing is like a bad thing, and attends AA meetings to help quell his addiction. Marshall knows that killing ain’t cool either but sees Earl’s attempts at avoiding what is essentially his nature as a simple exercise in futility. So despite the fact he’s been ‘clean’ for two years, Earl, at Marshall’s urging, decides to go ahead and do what he does.

Problem is when Earl offs this particular couple, you see Earl is serial killer known as the ‘Thumbprint Killer’, he was just a bit sloppy which has led to a rather scurrilous individual calling himself Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) having photos of Earl at the scene of the crime. However instead of shuttling these photos off to the police like any normal thinking person would have done Mr. Smith uses them to blackmail Earl into allowing him to tagalong for his next murder.

Meanwhile the Thumbprint Killer is being investigated by super tough lady cop Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) who is independently filthy rich, who is going through a nasty divorce, and who is trying to find ANOTHER serial killer called ‘The Hangman’ (Matt Schulze) who has busted out of the clink and has sworn to end her life the first chance he gets. And as if Earl didn’t have enough issues of his own, being a serial killer, being blackmailed, and being hunted down by bulldog cop, he finds out his daughter has dropped out of school for a variety of reasons, and if only bad grades were one of those reasons. Juggling domestic problems and serial killing can be quite the challenge.

I will freely admit that as a movie ‘Mr. Brooks’ has some shortcomings such as the Demi Moore character and the side story of her various issues and problems. That probably could have been movie all unto itself, and it would have been one I would have tried like hell to avoid. Yes there was no background, depth or reason given to a single character in the movie and perhaps director Bruce A. Evans could have excised all of Demi Moore’s characters various issues and stuck some of that ‘motivation’ stuff in the mix. And Dane Cook is my boy and all, but Lord only knows he manages to snag sweet gig after sweet gig.

But you see, the movie is called ‘Mr. Brooks’ and it is Mr. Brooks and his interactions with his imaginary friend Marshall which makes this movie so devastating clever and entertaining, at least to me. It is through these two characters conversations that we get to see how out of his mind Mr. Brooks truly is, with Kevin Costner and William Hurt playing this out to perfection. Watching Earl work a crossword puzzle and urging Marshall to stop helping him is simply priceless. I suppose in a sense Marshall is Earl’s Pooka, sort of like Harvey was to Ellwood in ‘Harvey’ in that Harvey often weighed in and gave opinions to Ellwood though he certainly wasn’t in control of Ellwood, similar in that Marshall doesn’t control Mr. Brooks. I just don’t think Harvey was encouraging Ellwood to murder people. I don’t think. But it was a six foot rabbit so you never know.

The best thing that Mr. Brooks brings to the table was that it seemed fresh and unique. Costner served us up a bad guy, a terrible person, a serial killer who someone could honestly emphasize with and that’s not an easy thing to do. Even though the movie tried like hell to take us away from what was so great about it to begin with, fortunately for ‘Mr. Brooks’ the parts that were good were so good that all of the extemporaneous side story’s couldn’t begin to derail this fabulously entertaining film.

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