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Leaves of Grass Reviews

Page 1 of 48
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2009
Very nearly an excellent movie: a by times funny Good Brother vs. Bad Brother story that plays into that famous Amercian trope: You Can't Go Home Again. Another project that I'd put on Edward Norton's recent Why-The-Heck-Did-You-Pick-This-One? List, but one in which he capably plays both twins - despite himself, he's remained a good actor. Where this one goes awry, I think, is in Tim Blake Nelson's desire to have it feel like a Coen Brothers film. The humour's dark, and the plot's all over the place, but the final third's zaniness kind of lost me... just in time for the predictable, cheesy love story ending. A film that's not quite sure what it wants to be, and one that's quite justly polarizing to critics and audiences alike.

Super Reviewer

March 25, 2010
Because of this film's mixture of wild, wacky characters, crime drama, stoner comedy, nutty plot, and philosophy, it would be understandable if you confused this with being a film made by the Coen Brothers. It's not, but its writer/director/co-star Tim Blake Nelson did work with the duo, so maybe that might account for the similarities. As a Coen clone (which I don't think it's trying to be, or should be labeled as), it's okay, but it fares better when looked at on it's own terms.

Bill Kincaid (Edward Norton) is a professor of classical philosophy at Brown University whose career is at a crossroads. When he gets a call informing him that his estranged twin brother Brady- a goofy, redneck genius pot grower and seller (also played by Norton) has been murdered by a crossbow in a drug deal gone awry, he journeys home to Little Dixie , Oklahoma (the place he was happy to leave) to attend the funeral.

When he gets there though, Bill discovers that he has been misinformed, and finds himself caught up in his brother's shenanigans which not only could put them both at risk, but could also finally help Bill discover what it truly means to be happy.

Based on the concept and casting alone, I was hooked. This is a really fun, and funny movie. Nelson really knows the material well (He's from Tulsa and studied classical philosophy at Brown), so the film is actually pretty accurate, even if slightly exaggerated. The film may not be totally original (again, it's very Coenesque at times), but it's well played, and never boring.

The plot does get kinda messy, and the tone is a little uneven at times (maybe the comedy should have been blacker), but all in all, this is a highly entertaining film that made me feel a little better about life and myself for having watched it. So yeah, there's some flaws, but what really saves the film is the awesome casting and terrific performances.

Norton is a real delight here. He's never been a bad actor, but this gives him the tough challnege of trying to pull off two very different characters who spend a lot of time engaging with one another. Thankfully, he pulls it off nicely. Nelson gives himself the fun, but familiar role of Brady's best friend Bolger, who, like Brady, is a good old boy who loves pot, is a proud redneck, but a lot sharper than he seems. Susan Srandon has some fun as Bill and Brady's eccentric mother Daisy, and Melanie Lynskey seems to be enjoying herself as Brady's pregnant girlfriend/soon to be wife. She's good, but it would have been nice to see more of her. As a potential love interest for Bill we have Keri Russell as Janet- a free spiritied poet who loves to go noodling and recite Walt Whitman while gutting catfish. The love subplot between Janet and Bill is kinda one of the weaker parts of the film (it could have been done better), but it's not bad enough to sink the film. In a really small, but wonderfulyl odd role is the great Richard Dreyfuss as Pug Rothbaum- a menacing antagonist who threatens Brady's criminal enterprises.

All in all, this is a weird, crazy mess, and it shouldn't really work, yet it somehow all does come together. It could be better, but for what it is, this is quite hilarious, a bit profound, and a real joy to watch. Give this one a look.
Everett J

Super Reviewer

January 1, 2012
I'm a big Edward Norton fan. "American History X", "The Score", "Primal Fear" are all three great movies, anchored by Norton. Even his take on playing "The Hulk" was fantastic. However, even he doesn't make great movies every time out. "Leaves of Grass" is about twin brothers Bill and Brady(both played by Norton). Bill is an Ivy league professor ashamed of his past, not wanting anything to do with his brother, mother or anyone from Oklahoma(where he was from). Brady is still in Oklahoma and is a pot grower. Brady has a fiancee and a baby on the way and ends up in a jam involving a drug kingpin(Richard Dreyfuss). Needing help, Brady tricks his brother into returning home to get him out of his situation. Norton does great in the dueling roles. He uses a great southern accent for Brady, and u believe there really is two of them. The problem with the movie isn't really Nortons fault, it's more of the story/direction. The ending is kind of odd, and in my opinion, doesn't really fit with the rest of the movie. This could have been a really good comedy, instead it's just a less than average drama. Worth a watch if your a Norton fan, if not then you would probably be better off to skip it.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

October 31, 2011
A pseudo-philosophical comedy that begins well but then dives into sheer stupidity after the first forty minutes. Even if Edward Norton is great playing twin brothers, the plot seems absolutely pointless, shifting with no tact from light comedy to overviolent thriller and cheap melodrama.
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

August 29, 2011
I am an Ed Norton fan, so I am probably a little biased. This is a different, but entertaining movie. Stick with it, and it eventually makes sense. Plenty of familiar faces pop up in this little film.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

June 20, 2011
Very much a counterpart to Adaptation and a great dramedy involving twins. Edward Norton gives a dual performance like no other. One of the brothers is so outrageous and goofy, but his other is more reserved and normal. I think doing that helps make the idea way more believable. It's just so bizarre seeing him interact with himself and be two completely different people at the same time. That aspect alone makes this a worthwhile movie, but ten the story ends up being really unique and genre bending that it's even better. The fact that this goes from a complete comedy to a pretty serious drama is odd, but it has an effect that really makes you look deeper into the characters. Leaves of Grass might not be amazing by an stretch, but I like that it accomplishes everything it sets out to do and really makes for a worthwhile experience.

Super Reviewer

May 1, 2011
For some reason, I love this movie. Nothing, other than Norton's performance is above average. But the sum total is so much fun, I couldn't help but love it.

Super Reviewer

March 15, 2010
It was an ok movie, not much there nevertheless it was nice to watch and enjoy,i didn't know if it was a comedy or a drama, those kinda movies usually dissapoint but still this movie was worth watching.

he lives of two identical twins, one an Ivy League philosophy professor, the other a small-time and brilliant marijuana grower, intertwine when the professor is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown for a doomed scheme against a local drug lord.
Mark W

Super Reviewer

November 25, 2010
The last time Edward Norton shifted between characters, showing his range, was in his film debut "Primal Fear", gathering him an Oscar nomination and catapulting him to stardom. Here, he does similiar work, but the result this time, is a very mixed bag.
Bill Kincaid (Norton) is a respected philosophy professor, who has also been invited to join a law firm using his philosophical teachings. Before that happens though, he recieves a call informing him that his twin brother Brady (Norton again) has been killed. Lured back to his hometown of Oklahoma, Bill soons realises that Brady is alive and well and that he's been fooled into his brothers involvement with growing marijuana and taking on a local criminal (Richard Dreyfuss).
Maybe working with the Coen brothers (on "O Brother Where Art Thou?") has lead director/writer/actor Tim Blake Nelson into a false sense of security in his talents and delusions of granduer. It seems as though it's the Coens' effortless, genre blending skills he's trying to emulate here but he simply doesn't have their finesse. This is an uneven mish-mash of ideas with gaping holes in the plot and extreme changes in tone, shifting from a humourous approach to downright nasty and violent. It doesn't get the balance right at all and might well have worked better had it decided what it wanted to be. Instead, it meanders, playing unsuccessfully with genres and only marginally keeping your interest with the impressive actors on screen.
A real shame despite the talent involved. Norton and Susan Sarandon (who plays his mother) are two of my favourites. Nelson is always good support and also seems to have a good grasp of philosophy, but this time around I can only assume that the studio got their hands on this one, cutting it to shreds. Otherwise, it's been a big mistake by all involved.
Its fairly appealling to watch Norton play off himself but he's been much better before and the script seriously let's his efforts down. A philosophical, hydroponic mess.

Super Reviewer

September 16, 2010
Cast: Edward Norton, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Keri Russell, Tim Blake Nelson, Steve Earle, Lucy DeVito, Melanie Lynskey, Josh Pais, Maggie Siff, Ty Burrell

Director: Tim Blake Nelson

Summary: Edward Norton stars in this quirky tale centered on a respected Ivy League professor who's lured back to Oklahoma to help his equally brilliant twin brother -- who grows the world's finest hydroponic marijuana -- best a big-time pot pusher (Richard Dreyfuss).

My Thoughts: "This film had a bit of a tug of war effect on me. I was into it one moment, laughing and interested. Then one moment I found it boring. So I guess in the end this movie just had moments. Edward Norton was great in this and did a great job at playing twins Bill and Brady. His performance besides Tim Blake's, is the only memorable one's in this. Not the greatest film these actor's have done by a long shot. See it, or don't. I honestly don't think you will be missing out on anything either way."
Cory T

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2010
Plagiarizing the Coen bros.' brand of disorganized crime and cerebral existentialism, the film is a scattershot assembly of tones and Norton's hillbilly shtick runs thin.
Eliza N

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2009
Not the best story ever but Ed rocks as always!!!!!!!!!!!!

Super Reviewer

February 27, 2009
"We don't deal in crystal meth, we don't deal in cocaine. We deal 100% pure Oklahoma grown..."

An Ivy League professor is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown, where his twin brother, a small-time pot grower, has concocted a scheme to take down a local drug lord.

A quirky comedy-crime drama morph without the over-the-top acting and scenarios common to Quentin's films. Everything is understated in this film, so much so that it becomes the one drawback that makes the crimes hard to believe. At the same time, it does create surprises and make the film as a whole funnier and more emotionally moving in a lot of ways. Norton and the visual effects, editing, and makeup people pull off an absolutely seamless transition between the two roles he plays. If you don't know in advance, as I didn't, you start to wonder if they were up to the same tricks used in Benjamin Button or if they had a look-alike playing the role. Finally, the film benefits from a lot of great supporting acting, both the big name actors and small, that keeps the film real even when it starts getting surreal.

Super Reviewer

August 16, 2011
In "Leaves of Grass," Professor Bill Kincaid(Edward Norton) is so popular with his students that he has to beat them off with a stick. He has also gained some well-deserved attention from Harvard University who want him to head a new discipline in their law school to teach students philosophy, so they are not entirely soulless when they graduate. That will all have to wait because he has just received news that his estranged twin brother Brady(Edward Norton) has died, causing him to return home to Oklahoma for the funeral. Well, there would be one if Brady had died but he had not, instead faking his death, so he could pay off some very dangerous debts. In the meantime, Bill can visit his mother(Susan Sarandon) in a rest home and find out he will become an uncle for the first time.

If for no other reason then the fact that he finally lightened the hell up, "Leaves of Grass" is a definite improvement over writer-director Tim Blake Nelson's other movies. But it turns out that comedy is not his forte either, as the movie is wildly uneven with an unnecessary turn towards extreme violence in trying to explore why incredibly smart people do very dumb things with a bit of philosophy and literature thrown in for good measure. While Nelson remains a quality character actor(he also has a part here), he does what nobody else has done in getting a performance out of Keri Russell which may have something to do with her character cleaning a huge catfish. And as expected, Edward Norton does not disappoint in playing dual roles, holding the movie together as well as anybody can.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

December 5, 2011
Boy, I'd imagine Eddy Norton has a bit of puff n stuff for breakfast, as we can tell from "Down in the Valley", because you'd have to be on some good ol' fashion cowboy hash to think that movie was a good idea. Yeah, I was thinking of using his three year relationship with Courtney Love as evidence too, but then my mental block of that swillfest of a film failed on me. No wonder he's into Asian stuff; they've got that there opium; and yet, there's even more evidence that Norton is hittin' the pipe, like his short-term memory clearly being shot, because he keeps forgetting that he already did the multi-personality role in his first film. Forget Hulk; it was only a matter of time before he just went ahead and played twins, but hey, he's still one of the greatest actors who ever lived, so I don't care if he plays the same role, or for that matter, a rhinoceros Barney ripoff-I mean Larry Flynt's lawyer-I mean a white supremist-I mean a safe cracker going undercover as a mentally disabled janitor-I mean Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. Wow, he's actually more diverse than I thought, but let's still retain hope that he gets out there and shows that off a bit more before people continue to not see his films and he has to resort to a new low, like being on some bad "ABC" sitcom like "Modern Fam... Okay, I better get off of his filmography before I find out even more painful truths, like him being in a terrible romantic drama about a cowboy randomly showing up in the suburbs to claim Marilyn Manson's wif-oh no, the mental block has failed again! Well, luckily, he'll always make up for that mistake by not only being one of the greatest actors ever, but also starring in one of the greatest films ever made, as well as a couple of other not too shabby films like this one, which isn't to say that this is as perfect as "Fight Club", because it certainly has its share of missteps.

When I heard that this film had a budget of a mere $9 million, I felt a bit upset, because I'd figure a master actor like Ed Norton would be more valuable. Imagine my relief and further frustration when I found out that Norton clearly did cost a pretty penny, and in order to get him, they had to cut out some expenses, like an editor. No, I know that the film has an editor, but considering that Mr. Michelle Botticelli doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, he must not be a very popular, and that's understandable, considering that he just does not know when to cut, letting scenes and dialogue just drag on and on, leaving the film to get a bit dull from time to time. Well, I suppose that Botticelli isn't completely to blame, because director/writer Tim Blake Nelson is clearly a little too proud of his work and just doesn't know what to cut from the script. Of course, the problem with the way he writes and executes the script is not just in what he doesn't cut out, but what he does, in fact, cut out, such as tonal transitions, because when this thing goes from comedy to thriller, it just comes out of the left wing and you just don't see it coming, making it a touch hard to latch on the newly arriving tense aspects. Granted, the tone shifts aren't as offputting as everyone says, but the problem still stands, and it certainly doesn't help that when the film does get dark, it gets maybe a little too dark and disturbing. Yes, Blake Nelson makes his fair share of mistakes with this film, but really, in spite of it all, his film still comes out strong and enjoyable, partially because of the writing, flawed though, it may be.

As much as I've complained about Tim Blake Nelson for not trimming down too much on the dialogue, it's hard to blame him, because he's written plenty of snappy, neat and charming lines to keep you going through the overdrawn scenes, which isn't to say that the film doesn't also get a push from an undeniably enjoyable country soundtrack. Still, what carries this film the most are the charismatic performers, from Keri Russell, to even Tim Blake Nelson himself. Still, it should come as no surprise that the far and away biggest standout is the lead, one of my all-time favorite actors, the great Edward Norton, who is virtually seamless as two entirely different people. It's not like most other dual performances, where it comes to you that this is the same guy; you know right out of the gate that Ed Norton is two different people, because he's so immersive in his transformation as either one of them. Now, I've been fighting for respect for my beloved home of Alabama, so it pains me to do this, but I have not choice but to take a step back in my protest and admit that some parts of Alabama, like the rest of the South, are more rural than other. I've yet to run into the racist, incestual drugee that everyone things most everyone of us are, but in certain parts, you couldn't throw a bottle of moonshine whiskey without hitting a thickly accented, good ol' fashion redneck, and as someone who's seen plenty of those people, I can proudly proclaim that Norton nails that character - accent, Southern charm and all - for the Brady character, while really getting Bill's struggles to escape his heritage by making him an entirely different person. However, both Bill and Brady share not only characteristics to allow you to see them as brothers, but an electrically compelling atmosphere that really tosses you onto both of them as leads, and if you see this film for no other reason, see it for yet another masterful performance by my man, good ol' Eddy Norton.

In the end, the film often limps along, though not quite slowly enough to have time to set up proper transitions as the tone makes its eventual and very drastic shifts, but no matter how slow or inconsistent it is, you can always expect consistently sharp dialogue to keep you going, though not as much as the charming performers, especially leading "men" Edward Norton, who's masterful dual performance plays a key part in making "Leaves of Grass" the generally entertaining charmer that it is.

3/5 - Good
Jeffrey M

Super Reviewer

October 21, 2011
Leaves of Grass offers some great work by Edward Norton and some genuinely funny moments, along with a charming script and story. The tone is a little uneven, but the film still remains engaging throughout by way of its originality and wit.

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2011
Nelson's writing and Norton's performance make up for the few flaws this film has. This is a perfect script.

Super Reviewer

May 15, 2011
Edward Norton's performances is the best reason to watch this film. Ed is no stranger with duality or split personalities but this is the first time he is playing twin brothers on screen and does an amazing job. It's great seeing him play both brother on screen at the same time.

The film itself needed a rewrite. They had a good idea for a film but didn't execute it correctly. I think it the Coen Bros would have wrote and directed the film then it would have been a much better movie. Tim Blake Nelson, I thought did a better acting job here than directing job. Richard Dreyfuss was too over the top and I thought he was better in Red. Still the film is worth checking out cause of Edward Norton's performances.

Super Reviewer

March 9, 2010
What I liked about this movie is well written story with a lot of twists... unexpected twists... And Edward Norton as Bill Kinkaid and his brother Brady did a really good job... believable! I am a sucker for any role of Susan Sarandon and I can't find a fault in her acting as the mother of "both" sons - Daisy. The whole movie is hard to classify... it could be a drama, action, comedy, thriller... but everything is evolving around how to find true happiness in the most unlikely surroundings. Do not watch this movie on DVD... cinema is the real place...
Christopher H

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2010
Leaves of Grass proves that Edward Norton is not only a talented mainstream actor, but can carry a lower budget film. Though the ending is questionable, the majority of the film is still worth a viewing, especially for Edward Norton fans, or fans catching all the small roles that Susan Sarandon is frequenting these days. Complete with the stamp of approval from Roger Ebert, Leaves of Grass shows serious potential in the weeks leading up to its DVD release date. Not bad for a film named after a book of poetry by Walt Whitman. Not bad at all.
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