Ed Burns’ film, “The Groomsmen,” was a constant punchline over the course of three or four pre-Tribeca planning meetings at work last week. I wasn’t making the jokes, though, or even laughing; I pre-ordered my tickets the moment they went on sale.
Apparently, Burns’ brand of heart-felt, New York-centric talkie isn’t in my colleagues’ wheelhouse. Apparently, “The Brothers McMullen” isn’t ironic or hip or jaded enough. Apparently, a handsome, hard-working guy who maxes his credit cards to realize his filmmaking dreams then goes on to marry a supermodel and call Robert Diniro “Bob” is worthy of their derision, or at least avoidance. Apparently, my colleagues shoot better films (and record better CDs, and write better books).
It’s in my wheelhouse, though. I had a press credentials for the festival, but still spent $40 for to tickets to the premiere of “The Groomsmen.” I happen to think the dude’s allright.
The film was great. It’s a story any thirtysomething guy can relate to: five guys work their shit out over a few beers in the days before one of their weddings. It’s real, and deep, and simple, and meaninful. Like life. Like a Woddy Allen film through the lens of a Queens kid. With a supermodel wife.
And what a cast! The film stars Burns, John Leguizamo, Jay Mohr, Matthew Lillard, and Donal Logue. Mohr’s hilarious; he steals the show. Leguizamo’s great, stretching our expectations of him. Logue’s terrific, bristling with anger. And Lillard better than he’s ever been. He’s the heart of the movie. It’s a great collection of male actors doing some great work.
And there are no b.s. camera tricks. Burns is a straight shooter. There are some copter shots, and cranes, but they don’t feel like gymnastics. It feels like a film.
I’m not really sure why my co-workers would mock the guy, or his efforts, or his achievements. I guess they’re bummed they haven’t achieved whatever it is they’d hoped to achieve. Or maybe they’re more head than heart. Or maybe they don’t go to the movies to feel good, or don’t want others to. I dunno.
In some way, my colleagues’ derision just makes me feel more and more like I’m not made for my job. I’m a hopeful guy, an optimist. I like a happy ending. I don’t mind a good tearjerker. And I’m a pretty big fan of anyone who has a vision, and works towards realizing it. I admire guys like Ed Burns, or “Clerks” writer/director Kevin Smith, or authors like David Eggers. I don’t hold their successes against them. I don’t hold their handsomeness against them. I say, Good for them! Go get ’em! Make some good art! I mean, even at its worst, it’s better than the other pap Hollywood or Madison Avenue spews out. An, yunno, I like to count myself in their company. Maybe not yet, but I’m workin’ on it.