Main cast: Guy Pearce (Aidan McRory), Jean-Claude Dreyfus (Administrator Normandin), Freddie Highmore (Young Raoul), Oanh Nguyen (His Excellency), Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu (Mrs Normandin), Moussa Maaskri (Saladin), Vincent Scarito (Zerbino), Maï Anh Le (Naï-Rea), Jaran Phetjareon Sitao (The Village Chief), Stéphanie Lagarde (Miss Paulette), and Annop Varapanya (Sergent Van Tranh)
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Usually when an actor stars in a movie opposite animals and kiddies, it’s the death knell for his career. Two Brothers however is done by a French director and produced by various French folks so this is different, right? Oh, hush. I’d like to keep the delusion that Guy Pearce still has it, alright?
Being French, perhaps director Jean-Jacques Annaud can be forgiven when he starts off the movie that is supposed to be safe for kiddies by showing the audience two randy tigers hooking up, if you know what I mean. That’s the closest you can get to T&A in this French movie, by the way, in case you’re wondering. Alas, as ecstatic as Mama and Papa Tiger are as they greet the arrival of two cubs later that year, trouble is afoot. Nasty humans show up and – bang! Papa Tiger will be making babies no more. Mama Tiger grabs one cub and flees. The cub that is left behind finds himself in the company of our treasure hunter Aidan McRory and a bond is formed between them with Aidan naming the cub Kumal. Alas, the bond is soon torn asunder. Meanwhile, the other cub finds himself the pet of a kid named Raoul. This cub, named Sangha, will soon also been torn asunder from Raoul. Will those two ever be reunited again? Oh, oh!
Every possible cliché in a Cute Animal in Distress movie is present here, from circuses to evil humans to talks of daring to seek one’s dreams because dreams are dreams or something. Along the way, the cubs act cute and adorable. The tigers that play the grown-up Kumal and Sangha aren’t as adorable, naturally, but they growl and purr like trained emotional manipulators guaranteed to make PETA zealots out of the audience if they are not careful. The good guys and the bad guys are recognizable with no in-between. Guy Pearce stands tall, bronzed and sweaty in his jungle khakis, his shirt unbuttoned enough to show his collarbone, Guy Pearce in formal early 19th-century suit, Guy Pearce… um, yeah.
There is really no point in objectively judging movies like Two Brothers. It is blatantly designed to whip animal-lovers into a tearful frenzy when the animals are threatened with distress and abuse on screen or into an orgasmic caterwauling of joy when the animals are finally running free and happy in the great untamed wilds as our benevolent heroes watch on with happy smiles on their faces. I’m not a cat person but even I find myself reaching for the Kleenex as I happily allow myself to be manipulated by this admittedly corny and wretchedly sentimental movie. On the other hand, I can easily see people who aren’t into animal movies falling asleep fifteen minutes into the movie. I’m sure you know which group of audience you will fall into.