In the movies often the only thing brothers have in common is a last name. Creating conflict between siblings makes good dramatic sense and it’s a practice that harkens back to the very first set of brothers. Would the story of Cain and Able have as much biblical oomph if the boys got along? I don’t think so.
So it is with Tommy and Sam Cahill, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, in this weekend’s Brothers. In the great tradition of movie siblings they’re polar opposites; Tommy is an ex-con, Sam is a Marine Captain and former football star. You get the idea. But will Tommy go all Cain on Sam? You’ll have to buy a ticket to find out, but in the meantime here are some other movie brothers who turned out differently than mom and dad may have hoped.
Ricky & Doughboy Baker (Morris Chestnut and Ice Cube) from Boyz N the Hood are opposites, but when Doughboy takes revenge on the people who killed his brother it proves that blood, and blood shed, is thicker than water.
In The Darjeeling Limited Jack (Jason Schwartzman) asks his brothers Francis (Owen Wilson) and Peter (Adrien Brody), “I wonder if the three of us would’ve been friends in real life? Not as brothers, but as people.” Good question. You couldn’t find a more diverse trio: Francis is a compulsive sad sack, Peter a bundle of manic energy and Jack a collection of jangled nerves. They may never be friends, but by the end of a road trip in India they can at least tolerate one another.
“When brothers agree,” the old saying goes, “no fortress is so strong as their common life.” But when they disagree, look out. Just ask Fredo Corleone. The Corleone boys each brought something different to the Godfather trilogy, but it is the “kiss of death” scene in part two between the kindhearted Fredo (John Cazale) and the ruthless Michael (Al Pacino) that gives new meaning to the term sibling rivalry. “I know it was you Fredo,” Michael says. “You broke my heart.” Siblings may not get along but it takes a real grim brother to order a hit on his younger brother.
In Go West Chico Marx summed up the relationship most of these on- screen brothers share.
“You love your brother don’t you?” he’s asked.
“No, but I’m used to him,” he replies.