The Brothers McMullen

By David Sturm, Copyright 1996

"The Brothers McMullen" might usher in a whole new genre--the date movie that's more for guys than for girls.

Written by, directed by, and starring Edward Burns, this is a film debut about guy-ness--especially the vicissitudes of Long Island Irish Catholic guy-ness.

Each of the three brothers McMullen has an archetypal guy problem:

Jack is the good husband with a seven-year itch (actually, he's only been married five years). Devoted wife wants a baby, but a vixen is trying to lure him into an affair.

Patrick is the devout Catholic. On the verge of marrying a feminist Jewish girl, he's getting cold feet because he senses culture clash between them. (Duh!)

Barry (Burns) is the footloose romeo. After a history of no-strings relationships he's falling in love and is mighty confused.

This may sound like a frothy cross between "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and the latest Billy Crystal movie, but it's not. Those movies are champagne but this one is beer. Speaking of beer, these brothers seem to have bottles surgically attached to their hands.

When they come into contact with women, they are usually being scolded. "You can't be Catholic and have a healthy sex life," chides one liberated girlfriend.

With women nipping at them, the brothers circle the wagons and fall back on each other, even moving in together. One of their favorite topics of conversation is "our favorite wife-beating, child-abusing alcoholic," i.e., their late father. Newly widowed mom has flown the coop with an old boyfriend.

Despite a sturdy cast, some funny lines and location shooting (Greenwich Village never looked leafier), "The Brothers McMullen" succumbs to plot formulas. Each brother sheds whatever obstinacy is keeping him from achieving happiness and emerges--aw, shucks--in the embrace of Miss Right.

Does it make you feel good to be a guy? Sure.

Is it believable? Well...

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