If you've already had enough of Frosty and Rudolf, I have an antidote for you. His name is Sam Cahill. His chilling
story has the power to throw a bucket of ice water on the warmest holiday fuzzy.
Cahill's journey lies at the heart of Brothers," Irish director Jim Sheridan's new film now at Durango Stadium 9. It
stands up well against Sheridan's other family dramas: My Left Foot," and In the Name of the Father." As Brothers"
opens, Sam (Toby Maguire) prepares to deploy for Afghanistan - again. He leaves behind a loving family that includes
Tommy (Jake Gyllenhall), his ne'er-do-well younger sibling.
Ah yes, brothers. If this reminds you of other ancient tales, it's meant to. From the biblical Cain and Abel to the
brotherhood of Greek warfare, Brothers" evokes mythical allegiances that run deep. The bonds of love, hatred and
competition may break, but they are never abandoned.
Brothers" is a remake. Sheridan adapted his movie from Susanne Bier's Brødre," a 2004 Danish release set in roughly
the same time period. The American version takes place in the Midwest and Afghanistan. It's tough, unsentimental and
ultimately ambiguous - three reasons it qualifies as a counter-balance to the Disneyland that December in America has
In contrast, Everybody's Fine," another remake of a European film, has the texture of fruitcake slathered with maple
syrup. Director Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee" and Waking Ned Devine") has adapted Giuseppe Tornatore's fine, tart 1990
family drama, Stanno Tutti Bene." In the Italian original, a seemingly innocent and befuddled widower (Marcello
Mastroianni) leaves his beloved Sicily and travels to Rome, Milan and points north to surprise his four adult children.
He hasn't seen them since his wife's funeral, so he sets out on a journey to reunite the family. Of course, the glowing
stories of success they have spun over the years do not match reality, hence the title.
The Hollywood remake substitutes Robert De Niro as Frank Goode, a retired widower who goes on a similar quest. He
leaves his comfy home in Elmira, N.Y., to catch up with David (Austin Lysy) in New York City, Amy (Kate Beckinsale) in
Chicago, Robert (Sam Rockwell) in Denver, and Rosie (Drew Barrymore) in Las Vegas. Again, there's a long history of
deception. But no matter.
Director Jones milks the story with heavy cream, and the denouement has nothing of the jolt embedded in Tornatore's
film. Instead, there's a landing as soft as meringue. The irony implied in the title undergoes a Los Angeles makeover.
And the director has the effrontery to let De Niro deliver the title line with a smug smile - at the very end of the
film. Buyer beware.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at "mailto:Jud_reyn@yahoo.com">Jud_reyn@yahoo.com.