Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Edward Burns, John Leguizamo, Jay Mohr, Donal Logue, Matthew Lillard, Brittany Murphy, Heather Burns

"There is a difference between getting older and growing up"

Cinema 5, Power Plant, Rockwell

I've always been a huge fan of Edward Burns ever since I saw his first venture into the film industry via "The Brothers McMullen". A small budget film he wrote, starred and directed which got rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, almost 10 years ago. Its plot revolved around this Irish Catholic brothers living in New York state suburbia. It touched on religion (Catholicism), delved into family matters all presented in a non intrusive way. Normal folks with ordinary dreams and aspirations. A simple yet realistic portrayal of every day life. So except for "A Sound of Thunder" which I didn't have an interest in because it was a sci fi flick, I've followed Ed Burns' steady career as an actor through the years. My favorite so far is "Confidence" where he played this wily con artist who used the F word like every 15 minutes, with aplomb.

The Groomsmen takes us back to his prolific style of showcasing a diverse group of people who share some commonality. In this case, they are the friends of Paulie, a 30 something guy who is getting married in a week to Sue who is 5 months pregnant. His entourage includes his older brother, Jimbo (Donal Logue), his cousin Mike (Jay Mohr) and his long time friends Dez (Matthew Lillard) and T.C (John Leguizamo).

Each character is well developed with his own personality strengths as well as flaws. All personified with their own qualms about their career, their civil status and life in general. Bonded by years of friendship, they also deal with valid problems like happy family life, infertility, homosexuality, immaturity. You know the normal angst and grievances of a group of 30 something guys.
The setting is in a closely knit neighborhood where they all grew up in. The sort of locale where people don't lock their front doors, kids play in the streets and you can practice with your band right in your own garage. A safe suburban community where strong family values still reign supreme.

The dialogue is riddled with crisp funny lines as well as an effacing good repartee among the 5 main male characters. They reminisce about their good old days of being in a band, their antics in high school. Talking about it like it was just a few days ago instead of almost a decade. They also express about their looming fears such as impending parenthood, the travails of married life, being single in the 30s and sexual orientation. It is presented with a comedic fare with some light emotional dramatic moments. All well connected to give us a cohesive view of life through the eyes of five different guys in their 30s. The best line in my opinion was uttered by T.C (John Leguizamo's character) when he said:

"When you reach 35, you finally have your mind set but your body starts to go away".

Or something to that effect. I actually laughed out loud and completely nodded in agreement with his statement.
Ed Burns would probably not be credited for being a good actor but he isn't a bad one either. He is just a steady credible presence on screen and he doesn't hog the limelight especially since he is in the company of other steady supporting actors. Donal Logue and Matthew Lillard are actors known for their comedic roles in films as well as in TV shows. They played their well fleshed out characters with ease and charm. Dez (Matthew Lillard) made a very convincing role model for the happily married 30ish guy. His advice to the confused Paulie about marriage was head on. When Paulie was lamenting the fact that once he gets married, he will lose his free time. Dez said:

"Well what do you actually do in your free time anyway? You either just watch TV or you jerk off. Free time isn't as fun as it is meant to be"

Another hilariously true fact of life. John Leguizamo has always been very versatile in his various roles. Here as T.C, the 'prodigal' friend who returns for the wedding of his friend, Paulie in his capacity as a groomsman, he gave a good performance even proving to us that he has a good singing voice as the lead vocalist of their defunct band (which was a revelation for me).
The biggest revelation though for me was Jay Mohr. OK so I've never been his fan. Truth be told, I would change channels whenever I saw him on TV. I thought he was this whining trying hard to be funny character which always irritating me to high heavens. In "The Groomsmen" he was still this whining, vindictive man child character who needs to grow up and act his age but these characteristics played in his favor since that is exactly what his Cousin Mike role entails. The good rapport and camaraderie among the group of friends was refreshing to watch.

"The Groomsmen" is a vintage Ed Burns movie. A snippet into the trials and tribulations of an intact set of 30something friends who course through life. It is a nostalgic, funny, feel good movie which put a smile on my face despite the fact that I had to watch it while listening to the loud snores (it was really loud!) of a senior citizen sleeping 4 seats away from my right.

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