Judge Brett Cullum thinks The Groomsmen are groovy.
There's a difference between getting older and growing up.
This disc wins my award for "most misleading box cover art" so far this year. When you look at the box you think American Pie or The Wedding Crashers, but The Groomsmen owes more to Diner and a Fellini film. The story follows City Island journalist Paulie (Edward Burns, Saving Private Ryan) in his last days before he is married, and meditates on what it means for him and four friends who make up his wedding party. These are childhood pals who have known each other all their lives, but each has a secret they've been holding back. Big brother Jimbo (Donal Logue, Grounded for Life), still lives with his dad Jim (Jay Mohr, Go). T.C. (John Leguizamo, Land of the Dead) has been away for eight years, and Dex (Matthew Lillard, Scooby-Doo) wants to reunite the rock cover band they all were in at 17.
The Groomsmen is a male "chick flick," a sensitive touching film for dudes. Male bonding, emotions, and fears are addressed as each guy examines what defines a "grown man." For men of a certain age (Gen X members unite), this is a defining struggle facing thirtysomething men as they let go of the glory days of youth and make way toward being responsible and fully formed. But as we all know, you never feel your age when you're around high school friends. There will be softball games, rock jam sessions, visits to a topless club, and a whole mess of alcohol which leads to surprising confessions. In truth, nobody's secret is surprising, but each actor wrangles some honesty out of each confession.
The story plays everything safe and it unspools exactly like many movies we've seen. Burns is basically covering a song about a guy before he gets married, and let's everyone mourn passing youth and grapple with the reality of adult life. The film feels like the cover songs the guys whip out as they practice with their band—familiar and a lot less polished. Wonderfully honest moments save the movie, where actors rise above a conventional script to allow for truly great performances. Burns and his posse of friends are interesting characters, and show you what they can do even with a trite scenario. Nothing here will shock you; all of the guys' secrets are predictable. Yet somehow the movie washes over you, and entertains despite always being simple and familiar.
The Groomsmen gets a non-anamorphic letter boxed transfer that looks clear. The only flaws I detected were digital noise created by plaids and sewer covers for a couple of seconds here and there. The sound is decidedly subtle for full surround treatment, but for being a quiet "dude drama," it fits. Extras include deleted scenes, a music video, bloopers, and musical montage showing the crew working behind the scenes. The most in-depth extra comes as Edward Burns gives running comments on what his logic was every step of the way in making The Groomsmen. He goes into great detail about how he kept the budget down, and what his approach and intention was every step of the way.
This is a perfect film if you're looking for something that takes guys and their emotions seriously. Nothing is new, but it's always amazing to see sensitive portrayals of wise guys from the old hood getting back together. The Groomsmen makes for a great character study, and I'm not sure what the marketing guys were thinking when they slapped "till death do we party" on the cover. This is a romantic comedy drama where the guys are in love with each other because they each connect to their youth. Pop it in after Fandango or Diner, and it'll fit perfectly. When you need a quiet dose of sensitive testosterone, it delivers.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
• Commentary by Director and Actor Edward Burns
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