Review by: Michael Dance
I must admit straight off that I am a newcomer to the world of Ed Burns. I see on the Internet Movie Database that he's written, directed, and starred in some six other movies in the past, most of them centering around the lives of middle-class people living in and around New York City. But while I can't compare his new movie The Groomsmen to his past successes, I can say it stands on its own right.
Obvious but fun, simple but insightful, The Groomsmen is an entertaining flick with more than enough good outweighing the bad. It lies firmly in the good-not-great category, but I liked its casualness and pure unpretentiousness. It doesn't try to be great and it knows it's nothing we haven't seen before, but it's honest and endearing. I always have a certain degree of fun with movies where all the characters have names like "Jimbo" and "Cousin Mike".
The story centers around five guys who grew up on Long Island. They're in their thirties but have been lifelong friends, and now Paulie (Ed Burns) is getting married, so they reunite a few days before the wedding. Aside from Paulie, who's marrying the sweet and pregnant Sue (Brittany Murphy), there's his brother Jimbo (Donal Logue), their Cousin Mike (Jay Mohr), their friend Dez (Matthew Lillard), and T.C. (John Leguizamo), who took off after high school and hasn't talked to anyone since.
The screen time for each of the guys is probably about even, and as they constantly intersect, each follows his own story arc over the course of the movie. Most of the plots are purely on the sitcom level: Paulie's having second thoughts, Cousin Mike can't get over his breakup with the only hot girl who ever liked him, and Dez wants to reunite the old high school band for the wedding. Jimbo doesn't think Paulie should get married and generally acts like such a jerk he might as well go around wearing a shirt that says "I HAVE A SECRET". T.C. also has a secret of his own, although in that case, the screenplay smartly reveals it early on, assuming correctly that we've already guessed.
It was an interesting move to cast the friends with actors known for comedy, because although overall this is a comedy, there are plenty of heavy scenes that I doubted most of them could navigate through. I'm happy to say that I was incorrect on all counts. The casting of this could've killed the picture, but I think the group really jives, and I bought each and every one of them. Brittany Murphy shines