Over the last decade or so, Edward Burns has become established as a
writer-director of mostly semi-autobiographical features. He made a splash
with his debut
THE BROTHERS MCMULLAN, which I confess I enjoyed. As
his career has progressed, though, I've been less impressed with his output.
THE GROOMSMEN doesn't change my impression.

Early on Burns earned comparisons with Woody Allen and there are
some superficial similarities, but Burns is not as strong a writer as Allen.
Allen has created several memorable female characters; Burns seems
incapable of creating a fully-rounded one.

        In THE GROOMSMEN, Burns portrays Paulie, a journalist who preparing
for his upcoming wedding to the pregnant Suzanne (Brittany Murphy). Hanging
out with his neighborhood buddies (who are all in the wedding party -- hence
the title), Paulie has to come to terms with his doubts as well as cope with the
baggage each of his pals is hauling. His older brother Jimbo (Donal Logue)
harbors resentment and badmouths the bride-to-be. His hotheaded cousin Mike
(Jay Mohr) is facing a recent breakup. T.C. (John Leguizamo) returns after an
eight-year absence carrying a secret. The only relatively sane one in the group
is Desmond (Matthew Lillard), a married father of two whose biggest issue is
attempting to get the guys to reincarnate a rock band they formed in high school.

THE GROOMSMEN is only intermittently amusing. The acting ranges
from terrific (Lillard, who has a memorable monologue about the joys of
marriage and fatherhood) to passable (Logue, whose "secret" resentment of his
sibling doesn't exactly come as a surprise) to awful (Burns, overly smug in
a tailor-made role). The script does contain these moment that are fascinating
but Burns is unable (or unwilling) to maintain the mood. Instead, his
character and his dilemma -- is he ready for marriage? -- continues to take
center stage. Frankly, it just isn't as interesting as the auteur thinks.

                Rating:                C -
                                MPAA Rating:              R for pervasive language and brief nudity
                                Running time:               98 mins.

                                        Viewed at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The Groomsmen
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.