“Mr. Brooks,” review by Susan Granger

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It’s easy to understand why Oscar-winning actor/producer/director Kevin Costner decided to change his image by playing a schizophrenic serial killer who dutifully attends AA meetings as “an addict” and engages in imaginary conversations with his creepy, caustic alter ego (William Hurt) as he struggles to control his impulses.

While he’s a successful businessman/philanthropist – Portland, Oregon’s Man of the Year – Earl Brooks has a secret. He’s dutiful to his wife (Marg Helenberger) and a doting father to his rebellious daughter (Danielle Penabaker) but – late at night – he sneaks out to feed his lurid fantasies.

While Costner once ruled the summer with “Field of Dreams” and “Bull Durham” and won Oscars for “Dances With Wolves,” he’s also suffered setbacks with “Waterworld” and “The Postman.” But he’s always been a risk-taker and Mr. Brooks is a blood-thirsty psycho, no doubt about it.

The story begins with great promise, delineating his character and introducing a disturbed peeping-Tom (Dane Cook) who photographs Mr. Brooks as he slaughters a young couple in their bed. The twist is that he won’t go to the police with his incriminating evidence if Mr. Brooks will take him along on his next “outing.”

Hot on their trail is a tough detective (Demi Moore) who’s in the midst of a nasty divorce and being pursued by a vengeful escaped convict (Matt Schulze) determined to kill her. Too bad he doesn’t because Moore is so plasticized that she’s almost as detestable as her prey.

Writer/director Bruce A. Evans and co-writer Raymond Gideon suffer from a plethora of coincidences and contrivances, including making Moore a multimillionaire and introducing a startling genetic concept. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Mr. Brooks” is a violent, implausible 6. It’s Costner’s dark field of screams

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.