A Review of Ed Burns' The Groomsmen
by Tony Phillips
Writer/director Edward Burns returns with a character-driven rom/com that’s not so much date movie fodder as the Sideways of beer. After some overhead shots establish a coastal Anywhere, USA — in this case, City Island oddly doubling for Staten Island — Burns plunges us headlong into the slowly dawning horror of his character Paulie’s impending nuptials. Preggers bride-to-be Brittany Murphy — in a flurry of bad highlights and dropped consonants — puts this couple just a few lemons shy of The Break-Up’s Aniston/Vaughn train wreck.
It’s a good thing Paulie’s got friends — the titular groomsmen played by Matthew Lillard, Donal Logue, Jay Mohr and John Leguizamo — to lower him into this early grave, but even though they rack up pool balls and layer tee-shirts against the dying of the light, he eventually succumbs. Even more unforgivable, Burns treats us to clichéd, 8mm home movies of the wedding reception as the credits roll.
Other “twists” on-hand to differentiate Burns’ peeps from the American Wedding crowd? One of the groomsmen is — as Jay Mohr’s character so delicately puts it — “a gay.” While it’s a spoiler to name him, take another look at that cast list and you’ll figure it out. Essentially, the only thing that makes this character queer — he shows up stag, existing in a space where gay marriage has yet to dawn — is his compulsive, serial coming out. Brace yourself, it gets as bad as “pass the salt to a homosexual,” but he may as well be black or Jewish or democrat. I guess Burns deserves some credit for not making him all of the above.