It’s easy to hate Mr. Brooks for a few obvious reasons, the main reason being that it stars Dane Cook in a completely serious dramatic role, which is admittedly funnier than any of his comedic performances, but is still abysmal and unfortunate. Also, the whole project has that special straight-to-DVD feel that certain movies have. It’s as if they pulled together a focus group and asked them for their five favorite things about thrillers, and then they wrote the script during the ten minute bathroom break. Then they called the focus group back in and one guy was like “but wait, I like this sixth thing about thrillers,” and the coordinator said “not a problem, we’ll just tack it on at the end.” And everyone in the focus group was like “Yay! We’re fucking idiots!” The movie is about as fragmented as the career of its writer/director, Bruce A Evans, who wrote Starman and Stand by Me (great!) but who also wrote Jungle 2 Jungle (um…) and made his directorial debut (and his only other film prior to this) with the Christian Slater vehicle Kuffs. You can say this about Bruce A. Evans: when he wins, he wins pretty big, but when he loses, dude loses. Dude loses so bad.

There are plenty of less obvious reasons to hate Mr. Brooks, too.

The story is basically (not basically) that Mr. Brooks is a successful businessman in Portland who is also a serial killer. His serial-killer alter-ego, Earl, is played by William Hurt (don’t worry about it, it’s the worst.) Mr. Brooks tries not to be a serial killer by going to AA meetings, but that’s not working because YOU CAN’T GO TO AA MEETINGS FOR BEING A SERIAL KILLER. So he kills a couple of people, and Dane Cook photographs him doing it, but instead of turning him into the cops or blackmailing him for money, Dane Cook blackmails him into taking Dane Cook along for a murder. Meanwhile, Mr. Brooks’s daughter has dropped out of college but is being cagey about her reasons, and then it turns out that a friend of hers was murdered down at college and Mr. Brooks is like “Oh no, she’s got the killin’ disease,” and he goes down to her college and kills someone to cover up for his daughter. The end of the movie is a WHIRLWIND of poorly thought out intrigue and double-reversals because ALSO Demi Moore plays a cop who is chasing Mr. Brooks and Mr. Brooks decides that he likes her so he kills her ex-husband because he was extorting her for five million dollars because it’s also an important detail (no it’s not) that Demi Moore is a multi-millionaire who is also a cop, and then Dane Cook tries to kill Mr. Brooks, but Mr. Brooks has it all figured out, and then Mr. Brooks calls Demi Moore and she’s like “where are you, criminal?” and he’s like “smirk smirk” and then Mr. Brooks drops a cellphone off a parking structure and goes back to his family.

The very opening image gives you just a sense of what’s wrong with this movie:

Um, WHO IS MR. BROOKS AND WHAT THIS HUNGER IN HIS BRAIN? I don’t know what you are talking about MOVIE THAT I JUST STARTED WATCHING, so don’t act like we’re friends. And it goes on from there. I’m all for subtlety and allowing the audience to gradually adjust to the world you’ve created for them, but you can’t be subtle and let me figure it out while also beating me over the head with it. Like, I’m willing to accept the five minutes of watching this movie that it took to figure out that no one except Kevin Costner could see William Hurt, but then do you really need to have Kevin Costner say “I go to AA meetings because I’m addicted to killing!” Just like you can’t convince me that Dane Cook’s character is smart just because when someone asks him where he works he says “I’m a mechanical engineer.”

Mr. Brooks, of course, is the world’s most professional killer, and we know this because of his amazing ridiculous disguises.

“Did you see anyone suspicious at the time of the murder?” “No, officer, just someone on their way to a costume party.” “Oh well. This is an unsolved mystery indeed.”

For as bad as the acting is, you have to cut the actors some slack because the dialogue is so badly constructed. When it’s not leaden and generic (“your daughter can’t do any wrong in your eyes, can she?”), it’s obvious and unimaginative. Take for example this scene in which Mr. Brooks and Dane Cook drive around looking for someone to murder.

Right. Oh man, totally. I hate when people are rude drivers. I just want to kill them. This movie is about me! You should have heard Dane Cook’s rant against weathermen earlier in this scene (seriously): you can’t trust them! Either they say it’s going to be sunny and it rains, or they say it’s going to rain and it’s sunny! LOLZ, right? Someone call Jerry Seinfeld and tell him that he doesn’t need to come to work today, we’ve got all the hilarious and insightful observations we can take right here.

The movie also commits one of my biggest pet peeves, which is the “unnecessary hobby to give characters the appearance of depth and also provide some incredibly convenient plot points” peeve. So, Mr. Brooks is an amateur POTTER. He has a studio where he tells his wife at night that he is going to “test out some glazes” as a perfect alibi for “testing out some murders.” After murders he comes home and burns the evidence in a kiln.

The stupidity of his pottery studio is only out-dummied by the surprisingly convenient moment at the end when Mr. Brooks leads Dane Cook into a cemetery and Dane Cook says “how did you get the keys” and Mr. Brooks says “I own it. ” Sure, he owns a cemetery. Who doesn’t. Besides everyone. Everyone doesn’t own a cemetery.

But perhaps the weirdest moment in this two hour collection of weird moments is this one.

Whoa. I know that the point of this is probably supposed to be that it’s so crazy that Mr. Brooks is a murderer but he’s also pro-life and how deep that is, and what a dramatic conflict, but it’s also FUCKING NUTS. We can also thank this scene for another pro-dialogue moment. “Your father pulled some cliche strings to get you into that unnamed, generic school.” Nicely done. Next time please finish all three days of your Syd Field seminar before turning in your final draft.

The only thing this movie did right was it hit Dane Cook in the face with a shovel.

And then it cut Dane Cook’s throat open with that shovel.

And then it buried Dane Cook in the fucking ground. In interviews, Kevin Costner has suggested that this movie is THE FIRST IN A TRILOGY. I’m going to have to call science, because I don’t know if it’s even possible to KILL YOURSELF THREE TIMES.

Next Week: The Adventures of Pluto Nash. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (29)
  1. caringiscool  |   Posted on Sep 8th, 2008 +9

    i love how the daughter cares so little about keeping or killing her unborn child that her dad’s half-assed, stilted speech is persuasive enough to make her reconsider getting an abortion.

    “i’m getting an abortion.”
    “no, i’d rather you didn’t.”
    “oh, okay. maybe i won’t.”

    yeah, because that’s how teenage girls feel about unplanned pregnancies – they can really take it or leave it, you know?

  2. Ha. HA and thank you!

  3. Mr. Brooks had approximately 34059 sub plots. 34058 of them do nothing to compliment the main narrative… It just makes the experience feel like you are watching 3 episodes of a canceled TV show.

  4. Eli  |   Posted on Sep 8th, 2008 +1

    Please – no-one in Portland has a car.

  5. Darren  |   Posted on Sep 8th, 2008 +2

    I never saw it, but the few people I know that saw it loved it. These same people (including my brother) loved You Don’t Mess With the Zohan as well though.

    So there’s probably a correlation; that being they have no taste.

  6. That pregnancy announcement scene is like a jewel box of delights! Just watching Kevin Costner hoist that glass of orange juice woodenly back and forth and back again pretty much tells me eveything I need to know about this flim. Although, contextually, I do love that line “I’m going to have to start getting up a little earlier, aren’t I?” Ewwwww.

  7. justinbenson  |   Posted on Sep 9th, 2008 +5

    can a movie with the murdering of Dane Cook really be that bad? If the movie was only about murdering dane cook i would have to consider it one of my favorite movies of all time.

  8. I’m moving this to my number one netflix spot right now.

  9. ben  |   Posted on Sep 9th, 2008 0

    gabe, i know its too late to recommend more movies (maybe?) but at least watch this scene from “Undefeatable” a terrible Godfrey Ho movie from the early 90′s.

    this might be too funny to be terrible, though. what do you think?

  10. i don’t think she was really prego tho – she was using that as a cover up to being a serial killer in the making, right?

  11. ingrid  |   Posted on Sep 9th, 2008 +1

    consider Leprechaun 5: In The Hood.

    It’s kinda shoo in, probably because it is the worst movie ever made.

    Here’s the description:

    An evil leprechaun and a powerful producer pursue three rap artists who stole a magic flute.

  12. Katherine Fite  |   Posted on Sep 13th, 2008 0

    Speaking of Kevis Costner, please please please do not overlook the horror that is Water World.

  13. What the hell is going on in that picture with the ovens? Is he naked? IS THAT A THONG?

  14. Wasn’t the good part of the movie basically ripped from ‘Dexter’? Having a serial killer disease and trying to keep it under control by killing the baddies and going to AA?

  15. mike d  |   Posted on Sep 20th, 2008 -5

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  16. This time you have done a very good hunting. You have criticized the film witch I have never thought about. For me, this is a kind of film that can be considered like I saw and I forgot.

  17. courtney  |   Posted on Nov 18th, 2008 0

    I know it might be too late to make suggestions for movies but since the holidays are approaching maybe ‘Deck the Halls’ would be a good one. I’ve never had so much trouble getting through a movie in my entire life. I had to rent it once and couldn’t finish it and then tried to watch it on cable again and still barely got through it.

  18. thanx for telingl what it’s about… i wont watch it … nice annotation)))

  19. Fife  |   Posted on Dec 16th, 2008 +1

    This review lead me to find out more about this crazy movie, which lead me to this, possibly the funniest, greatest thing I’ve ever read:

    Read all 12 pages of the main “argument.” It’s worth it. Whoever conceived of this is genius.

  20. Super Scott  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    Dane Cook is an awful, terrible malignant human tumor. Thank you for showing me that there are other people in the world who survived of the real life Night of the Comet that is dane Cook with me.

  21. Kira  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 -3


  22. Adam Bruneau  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2009 +2

    Keep it up this hunt is some hilarious writing and even more hilarious clips from movies I would never in a million years want to watch. Your plot summaries are brilliant.

  23. Jordan  |   Posted on Sep 3rd, 2009 -2

    Whoever writes this blog, is a complete and total moron.
    You act like you know so much about films, but in reality, you know jack shit.
    I won’t sit here and act like I know it all either, but I am also not going to try to pretend and post stupid comments about a film.
    Let’s just get down to the wire, you are probably a film student, maybe not,
    but your work just doesnt quite cut it, so you spend your pathetic time criticizing movies that make more than you could in a lifetime.
    and maybe its not realistic, but even in economic crisis…do you know why the theaters stay open? BECAUSE PEOPLE GO TO THE MOVIES TO ESCAPE FROM REALITY FOR A FEW HOURS!!!! Maybe some of you people should use your friggin imagination and think outside the box. I am no star, but I have been in a movie, and i know what it takes to make one.
    It is hard work. The people in this movie have thrived, so they must be doing something right…despite what a few hundred pathetic losers such as yourself have to say. I am sorry you are so jealous…just get over it.
    Thank you, come again….

  24. Viviane  |   Posted on Oct 18th, 2009 -1

    I do not agree with you about this movie and I’m astounded to see that people would make their decision of watching it based on your criticism. Of course, every one is intitled to their own opinion, but it seems to me that you only look to the surface of things. You did not try to see the depth of the storyline. Kevin Costner plays a character who do not accept is own nature and who is conflicted by what he knows he should do (the right thing) and what he wants and likes to do (killing). His character is in constant denial of himself, like when he called Atwood at the end. He did not want to make small talk, he wanted her to know that the man she thougth was the thumbprint killer really wasn’t. For her part, I doubt she thought he was going to give her his location, she just tried to make him talk more. I also doubt that he just wanted to kill her husband or send her to the other murderer because “he liked her”, as you put it. Did you think about the fact that she nearly got killed there? I think he took a chance of getting rid of her. As for Dane Cook, while not my favourite actor, he plays an insignificant, arrogant and egotistical man who thinks himself smarter than anyone else, while being, in reality, an idiot. You said his replicas were stupid, well, his character was supose to be kind of idiotic. I think that movie was entertaning, full of subleties and awesome sacastics comments. Like I said, you only saw the surface and you were unable to read between the lines. I’m not sure if you are the appropriate person to criticized a movie in such a way. At least do try to find better arguments than ” You should have heard Dane cook’s rant against weathermen (…)” Oh! Another thing. I seem to remember hearing somewhere that the basics stuff someone can learn in an AA meeting could actually be used on any kind of addiction… Oh well…think what you want to think. I doubt my opinion will change yours…pity…

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