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The Brothers McMullen (1995)

January 15, 2010

8/10 Man Talks

Caters more to the fellas, but a pretty fantastic debut effort all the same.

The Brothers McMullen is about three Irish Catholic brothers living under the same roof in Long Island as they work to sort out their insecurities when it comes to the women in their lives or the lack thereof. One of ’em is cheating on his perfect wife, the other is stuck in a relationship with a woman he doesn’t love, and the youngest of the bunch thinks this whole “relationship” thing is a heap’a bullshit. So, yeah, these guys have some room to grow.

I almost forgot about this movie until I recently saw a freakin’ Geico commercial of all things featuring Mike McGlone – the middle brother McMullen – comparing auto insurance to Elmer Fudd’s lisp. Being that the apple has apparently fallen quite far from the tree for Mikey boy, it occurred to me that it was high time to revisit a period in his life that didn’t involve him upstaging a talking gecko for cash.

For those who’ve never heard of this fine little nugget of indie gold, The Brothers McMullen is the brainchild of one Edward Burns. The dude wrote it, directed it, funded it, produced it, starred in it, made love to it, the whole shebang. This is his baby, all complaints can be directed at him, and, not surprisingly, it’s what put him on the map.

In a nutshell, this is a talking heads movie, but that’s cool because I happen to have a weakness for talking heads movies. What sets it apart though – aside from Ed’s short-lived grunge look – is the writing and the way it unabashedly captures the way guys talk, the things they talk about when the lady-folk aren’t around and the things that goes through a guy’s head when he’s thinking with his pecker. Can’t think of a whole lot of movies that do it as well, maybe In The Company of Men, but that’s a whole ‘nother monster that doesn’t reflect the tone of this movie whatsoever. It has a penchant to get pretty crass at times and, depending on the crowd, it might not be doing any favors for the fellas in the room, but there’s something very endearing, very refreshing about how upfront it is.

The thing is, it’s not often I come across movies that have something honest to say about an everyday subject like love and commitment. Take a movie like The Ugly Truth for instance. Granted, I didn’t see it, but the word on the street is that it bombed like a mofo in trying to achieve this task. “Men are pigs” – got it. Thanks a bunch, Kath and Geri.

The Brothers McMullen on the other hand nails it because it’s got credibility. It’s about believable individuals with believable flaws that are stuck in relatable circumstances. It ain’t pretty, but that’s life, and that’s why it works. Everyone’s got their own thing going on but it’s great to watch them all come around and gradually realize what’s up. Nor does it hurt that it’s damn funny from start to finish.

But aside from the script, the direction is pretty straightforward and the acting’s not too shabby all around – the standout being Burns (big surprise). Another big reason this one got an 8 is ’cause I can’t help but dig a well-written movie that’s built from the ground up by an obviously talented guy with a lot of passion for what he’s doing.

Nonetheless, still can’t outright recommend it because I’m pretty sure this could be a bit male chauvinistic for some, but heed my advice and take this one with a grain of salt all the same. Trust me, gals, male chauvinism doesn’t make us look good, either.

Great characters, a great script all around and the best speech comparing a banana to your manhood that I’ve ever heard makes for a fine two hours that I’ve found myself revisiting more than once. Man, someone needs to give Ed Burns more roles. Dude is cool as hell.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2010 6:27 am

    one of those i always catch a bit of late on a Saturday night on BBC2, cant remember much about it though, not sure i remembering it warranting 8 out of 10 though Aidenio (thats your name if you were a Brazilian footballer)
    and sorry, but if you think Ed Burns is cool i worry about you

    • January 15, 2010 8:28 am

      hahaha, catch the whole thing and get back to me.

      and Ed Burns IS cool. think i might be biased thanks to his character in Saving Private Ryan lugging the BAR around with Brooklyn on his back the whole time, but what can I say, I like the guy.

  2. January 19, 2010 9:57 am

    A great look at relationships between three brothers. Add this one to your list of must haves. I just love eds work.he’s a genious… i’ve watched it numerous times and it always feels like the first…

  3. Marc permalink
    January 22, 2010 3:37 pm

    I will be watching this very soon thanks to your write-up. JUst the thing before a wedding, soaking up 90+ minutes of male chauvinism:P

    If you like Burns, check out ‘Confidence…pretty sweet little con-artist flick (though not as cool as Ocean’s 11 per se), and Burns is kind of a dick but it works in the film.

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