Fox // 1996 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Erick Harper (Retired) // September 29th, 2000
A romantic comedy about two brothers...and the one thing that came between them.
Edward Burns' (The Brothers McMullen, No Looking Back, Sidewalks of New York) sophomore directorial effort is the story of brothers Mickey and Francis Fitzpatrick and their struggles with women, their father, and each other.
Mickey Fitzpatrick is an unfocused, free-spirited New York cab driver. He has been in a slump for the past few years, ever since finding his fiancée naked with another man. His brother Francis is a Wall Street stockbroker obsessed with money, appearances, and success. Francis seems to have everything, including his gorgeous, loving wife Renee, but he is never satisfied with life.
Mickey meets and marries Hope, an impulsive, romantic waitress. Their happiness helps to expose the cracks in Francis' marriage, and Mickey discovers that Francis is having an affair -- with Mickey's ex-fiancée Heather, no less. Meanwhile, all is not perfect between Mickey and Hope, as he finds out that she has applied to study in Paris for her Ph.D. Soon, both brothers are torn between their wives and Heather, and their sibling rivalry comes to the fore.
Burns (The Brothers McMullen, Saving Private Ryan, No Looking Back) wrote and directed this movie as well as starring as Mickey, the older but directionless brother. He gives a solid and convincing performance. Cameron Diaz (The Mask, There's Something About Mary, Feeling Minnesota) also gives a good performance as the manipulative seductress Heather. If you are only familiar with Diaz from her lighter comedy work, this role will make you see her in a whole new light.
Outstanding among the cast is John Mahoney (Frasier, Moonstruck, Say Anything). He is a solid character actor who always brings a sense of sincerity and humanity to his roles.
She's the One comes to us on a two-sided disc with a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer on one side and a full-frame version on the flip side. Picture quality is adequate, and the source print looks very clean with only minor nicks or scratches. The full-frame presentation is listed on the back of the case as pan-and-scan, but is actually an open-matte transfer. In any case I consider the full frame version to be irrelevant and only watched enough of it to verify that the picture quality matches that of the correctly framed version.
There are three audio options available: Dolby Digital 4.0, Dolby Digital 2.0, and French Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the Dolby 4.0 track only. The sound is adequate but nothing spectacular. The rear channels were used only rarely, usually for the musical score. This is to be expected, as this is a dialogue-heavy movie with few if any sound effects. The sound is mostly centered with few discernible directional effects. If it were not for the excellent Tom Petty score you could just as well turn off your sound system for the evening and use your TV's internal speakers.
Fox has included a nice selection of extras with this picture. They include a commentary track by Burns, an eight-minute featurette, a theatrical trailer, a web link to Ed Burns, and a music video of "Walls" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The trailer is unremarkable, and is presented in full-screen even on the widescreen side of the disc. The featurette is mostly a standard fluff piece with little useful information. I've always been a fan of Tom Petty, so I thought the video for "Walls" was a nice touch, although it is presented in Dolby 2.0 and therefore pales in comparison to the version you hear over the opening and closing credits.
The commentary track by Ed Burns was interesting and informative, and probably has a greater repeatability factor than the movie itself. It is almost like a mini-seminar on how to make an independent film on a tight budget. I always enjoy the "inside baseball" quality in film commentaries, and Burns gives a nice mixture of production anecdotes, personal background, and explanations of the scenes as they happen.
There is not much of a story here. There is really nothing that we haven't seen in any number of family angst/sibling rivalry movies. Most of the situations presented are tired clichés. Let's see: overly competitive Irish brothers, a know-it-all father, problems with women, and a goodly amount of drinking. Set the movie in Massachusetts and they could be the Kennedys.
The larger problem with She's the One is that there is no real drama in any of the situations. All of the relationships between the characters grind along to utterly predictable destinations. We know that Mickey is a good guy and will ultimately do the right thing. We know that Francis is a louse and will eventually get what is coming to him. There are a few twists along the way that try to introduce an element of surprise, but the outcome is never in doubt.
Mike McGlone (The Brothers McMullen, Ed, The Bone Collector) is flat out terrible in his role as Francis. His entire characterization is exaggerated and over the top. He revels in his role as the big jerk, and overplays it to the point of caricature. He is not helped by Burns' script, which puts clunky, unrealistic, harsh dialogue in his mouth.
Maxine Bahns (The Brothers McMullen, Chick Flick, Stray Bullet II) contributes little to the movie. She is completely wooden and unconvincing. All of her scenes, especially those with Burns, fall flat.
Jennifer Aniston (Friends, Picture Perfect, The Object of My Affection) gives a good performance in places, but it is unfortunate that her main function in this movie is to talk about sex. Watch Rachel...err, I mean Renee talk about sex with her husband. Watch her talk about sex in front of her parents and sister. Watch her talk about her vibrator, which was a gift from her mother. I've watched a lot of episodes of Friends (yes, I admit it) and Aniston has shown that she is a respectable actress with a good sense of comedic timing. This was her feature film debut, and it is unfortunate that her talents were so wasted as she whines her way through one detailed discussion after another about her sex life. In the scenes where she is allowed to talk about something else she does a good job of capturing the anguish of a rejected wife, but these scenes do not come frequently enough.
John Mahoney, while giving a good performance, is unfortunately given little to do but act as a sounding board for the two brothers and dispense bad advice. Think Martin Crane with a higher energy level and a few four-letter words, and you will hit it right on the head.
The picture quality on this disc is adequate for storytelling purposes, but leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of pixelation and loss of pattern surrounding any light source in the movie. As an example, check out the windows in Mickey and Hope's apartment in Chapter 12. They strobe and sparkle like giant disco balls. Look at that same scene for some bad artifacting, as the buttons on Francis' coat appear to leave contrails as he walks into the room. Shadow areas are muddy and indistinct, with poor detail. Tone-on-tone areas are poor too; check out the scene in Francis' office in Chapter 6. The lapels of his suit coat disappear and blend into the body of the jacket. Image clarity varies throughout the movie, with a number of areas where the picture is too soft. Also, a lot of edge enhancement evidently went into the transfer, as almost every scene shows halos surrounding people, trees, et cetera in a weird double-vision effect.
Audio, as I mentioned above, is adequate but unimpressive.
Try as I might, I could feel nothing for these characters or their situations. The movie ground its way from one cliché to the next, wasting the talent of a lot of good people along the way. The best part of the movie is Burns' fascinating commentary track, which I will probably watch again. If you want to rent or purchase the disc on that basis go ahead, but don't say you were not warned.
The movie is convicted of being a muddled bag of clichés. Edward Burns is given a suspended sentence due to his generally good record and his informative commentary track on this disc. Fox is convicted of giving us a sub par transfer and barely adequate audio, albeit with a nice selection of extra materials.
We stand adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary Track
* Theatrical Trailer
* Music Video
* Web Link