The Groomsmen
Visual Entertainment // R // $26.99 // November 14, 2006
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted November 4, 2006
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In 10 Words or Less
Boys will be boys

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: A good indie film
Likes: Ed Burns, Jay Mohr, John Leguizamo, Donal Logue
Dislikes: post-Clueless Brittany Murphy
Hates: Cheaters

The Movie
Casts packed with big-name talent have a long history in film, ranging from the silly (the Cannonball Run movies) to the excellent (Ocean's 11), and everything in between. Of course, when you sign a lot of big names, your budget skyrockets, which doesn't work for an Edward Burns film, where the costs are always kept low.

So instead of hiring superstars, Burns pulled together a cast of well-known and well-liked B-list actors to tell his intimate suburban story, topping things off with a high-gloss female lead in Britney Murphy. As a result, a look at the box reveals a recognizable line-up and one familiar to fans of independent film.

It's all lead by Burns, who plays Paulie, a good-guy Long Islander who's about to marry his pregnant fiancee (Murphy). For the week before the big day, Paulie plans some fun for him and his groomsmen, including his brother Jimbo (Donal Logue), Cousin Mike (Jay Mohr), bar owner Dez (Matthew Lillard) and their buddy TC (John Leguizamo), who's been gone from town for years. This is no hedonistic party though, as Paulie's impending nuptials have the guys thinking about their own lives.

Internal struggles within the group, such as Jimbo's jealousy of his brother and a long-standing grudge between Mike and TC, give the film an undercurrent of tension that helps sell the story, despite the occasional melodrama. Burns wisely avoided the temptation to focus on the group dynamic, and broke the crew up to reveal their backstories and their mindsets heading into the wedding. This choice gives the plot a very natural pace, and allows the story to unfold in a way that doesn't drag.

Though the overall story of Paulie's wedding doesn't carry much weight, it's really only needed as the skeleton onto which the bits of character study are hung. Burns and Murphy aren't entirely believable as parents and spouses to be, but their time on-screen together is minimal. Burns' chemistry with his buds, and more importantly the chemistry among the buds, is the bigger part of the film, and for the most part, it works. Lillard, playing a relatively successful guy who yearns for the happiness of his youth, is probably the best of the bunch, thanks to an understated performance that's a long way from his turn as Shaggy.

On the other end of the spectrum is Logue, whose character doesn't allow him to do much more than scowl at his fate. Mohr and Leguizamo fall somewhere in between, though Mohr's drunken Boston frat-boy act rarely fails to earn a smile.

The one-DVD release is packed in a standard keepcase with a truly awful piece of unnatural cover art. There's a lot to not like about it, starting with the bizarre angle of Mohr's head. While it's understandable for them to want to get all the recognizable names on the cover, it could have been done better. The disc has a very nice animated anamorphic widescreen main menu, with options to watch the film, select scenes, check out the bonus features and adjust the set up. The audio is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 English, while English subtitles are included. There is no closed captioning.

The Quality
For some reason, the film is presented in a full-frame letterboxed transfer, but at least it's a good one, with tight detail and quality color. The black levels could be a bit deeper, though there's no dirt or damage to be found, and no obvious digital artifacts.

This film is mainly a dialogue-heavy movie, with some spots of music, so your speakers won't get much of a test. The sound is good for what it is, as its clear and well-defined, even when there's a lot going on.

The Extras
The extras start with a feature-length audio commentary by Edward Burns. It follows Burns' style of commentary, as he provides a great deal of detail about the film-making process, working on a low-budget, the story and the scene on the set. It's obvious that Burns thinks a lot about how he makes movies and he really enjoys sharing his thoughts and opinions on DVD.

The rest of the disc is made up of footage from the production, starting with 10 minutes of deleted scenes. A couple of scenes with Paulie and his dad, further development of Jimbo's problems and a bachelorette party scene that's out of character for the film all got the ax, though they don't seem too bad in hindsight. A seven-minute blooper reel is joined by four minutes of Jay Mohr outtakes, which are amusing, especially Mohr's odd pregnant-lady belly rubbing.

"Behind the Scenes with The Groomsmen" is a 4:44 montage of footage from the set, scored by the song "Four Cheers" by The Blue Jackets. It's followed by the video for that song, which has clips from the movie mixed with video of the band. The end result is two very similar extras that feel a bit repetitive.

The disc finishes up with the film's theatrical trailer, which is shown in letterboxed full-frame.

The Bottom Line
The tagline on the box, "Till Death Do We Party,"would be hard to top in terms of irrelevance to the film. Instead of a story about a last-gasp bachelor party, it's a coming-of-age/coming-to-terms tale of guys growing up, and not a bad one at that, thanks to a B-list cast of likable leads. The DVD disappoints a bit with a full-frame transfer, but otherwise is quite good, with a group of decent extras and a quality presentation. If you enjoy male-bonding films, like Diner, this is worth checking out.

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