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The Brothers McMullen
Selection for the Weekend of
If you saw 15 Minutes and started to wonder how Ed Burns became a star and deserves to act with Robert De Niro, you should check out this week's selection, The Brothers McMullen. Don't confuse it with the horrid NBC sit com, The Fighting Fitzgeralds (you just know Brian Denehy is doing this one for the $$$$), this one is good and not full of stupid stereotypes.
Written and directed by Burns, the film follows the troubles each man in an Irish Catholic Long Island family face as they start to get older and must make major life decisions regarding affairs of the heart. Jack (Jack Mulcahy) is happily married to Molly (Connie Britton aka Nikki on Spin City), but she wants children as Ann (Elizabeth McKay) is tempting him. Brother Patrick (Ed McGlone) is in a very serious relationship with Susan (Shari Albert), but he is getting cold feet as she starts to mention marriage. And of course, Barry (Ed Burns) just broke up with his girlfriend. Patrick and Barry need someplace to live since the girlfriends have the apartments, so they move in with Jack.
Will living with each other, stunt the brothers' growth and maturity? Will Barry fool around with Ann? Will Patrick marry Susan even though he is very Catholic and she is Jewish? Can Barry fall in love with any woman?
The Brothers McMullen was part of an independent film movement in the 90's that returned film making to a bygone day. Writer/director types like Quentin Tarantino, Ed Burns, and Kevin Smith (with some influence from the TV show Seinfeld) moved films from the 80's-type constant search for the next blockbuster to a search for small films with character development and strong dialogue. Their films set a standard and defined a generation of filmmakers and moviegoers alike.
The strong writing fully defines each character's strengths and weaknesses, with a nice touch of humor. Since all of the actors had day jobs, Burns is forced to make a film scene by scene with only two or three characters at a time. Instead of letting this detract from the film, Burns uses it as strength. Each conversation is important and the audience is forced to stay awake at all times. Each actor gets many special moments to show his or her ability as well as the complexity of their characters. Due to the good script, each plot line is equally entertaining and vital to the overall enjoyment of the film. As you watch closely, you'll see that each relationship is a stage of falling in love with another person.
Brothers McMullen is about as low budget as they come. Shot in 20 days over the course of 8 months, Burns had to set up a schedule based around each actor's work schedule, especially the director, who worked at TV's Entertainment Tonight. Also, shoots would often be cancelled due to foul weather, medical problems with key crew or when Burns had run out of film and needed to save money to buy more. Overall, the film was made for $25,000 and grossed over $10 million.
Directed and written by Ed Burns
Shari Albert .. .... Susan
Maxine Bahns . . . Audry
Connie Britton . . Molly
Edward Burns . . . Barry
Mike McGlone . Patrick
Elizabeth McKay . . Ann
Jack Mulcahy . .. Jack
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