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By Mark Bell | July 8, 2006

Set in the City Island section of the Bronx, the film centers on Paulie (Burns), a writer who is set to marry his pregnant girlfriend Sue (Brittany Murphy). But Paulie is behaving erratically – he seems more focused on hanging out with his four groomsmen then helping Sue with such trivia as planning the wedding or getting their home ready for their soon-to-arrive baby.

The groomsmen equal Paulie in regard to maturity (or the lack thereof). Big brother Jimbo (Donal Logue) is a boozing jerk who can’t hold a job and who is constantly fighting with his wife. Cousin Mike (Jay Mohr) is a dope that still lives with his father and mopes over an ex-girlfriend – even to the point of stalking her at her home. T.C. (John Leguizamo) is a somewhat creepy guy who abruptly left the neighborhood eight years earlier and returns with a secret (which is fairly obvious). Only Dez (Matthew Lillard) seems to have his life in order: a wife, two kids, and a successful life running a bar. But he’d rather reunite his pals into their high school band then perform such niceties as drive the kids to school.

This tale of men who grew old but didn’t grow up is among the most obnoxious things to fall off the screen this year. The male characters are complete idiots who lack the ability to acknowledge they are no longer boys, the women are shrill viragos who are constantly irritated that they’re not the center of male attention, and the only genuine stylish fixtures in this film come with the blatant product placement (you know something is wrong when a box of Cap’n Crunch gives a better performance than Edward Burns).

It has been a dozen years since “The Brothers McMullen,” yet Burns still has no clue how to make movies. His dialogue consists of carousel conversations that spin endlessly amidst tiresome cursing and name-calling. His camerawork (to borrow a line from Elvis Mitchell) looks as if it was shot with an elevator surveillance camera. And his inability to get genuine performances out of his talented cast is astonishing. Lillard and Mohr try to push the dull edges of their characters with obvious hamming, but Leguizamo is visibly adrift in his no-dimensional role and Logue, who is best doing rude comedy, shows his limits when his character has a big emotional moment complete with tears and screams. With such an erratic ensemble anchored by Burns’ monotonous screen presence, the film becomes an endurance test.

After sitting through this movie, you will want to throw something more pungent than rice at “The Groomsmen.”

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