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20th Century Fox presents

The Brothers McMullen (1995)

"I like being a pessimist. It helps me deal with my inevitable failure."- Barry McMullen (Edward Burns)

Stars: Edward Burns, Mike McGlone, and Jack Mulcahy
Other Stars: Connie Britton, Shari Albert, Maxine Bahns, Jennifer Jostyn, Elizabeth P. McKay
Director: Edward Burns

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for Profanity and sexual situations
Run Time: 01h:38:19s
Release Date: 2000-10-03
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B+C+C B-


DVD Review

Making an independent romantic comedy is a lot like dancing alone in the middle of a crowded ballroom, you have to do it well or the results can often be disastrous. Films like Chasing Amy and Swingers have succeeded, but for each of those great films there are countless others that fail miserably. And while The Brothers McMullen isn't the best of the lot, it is better than most.

The title characters are three Irish-Catholic brothers who through the course of the film explore their relationships with women. Jack (Mulcahy) finds himself in a marriage gone stale and under pressure to start a family that he does not yet feel ready for. Barry (Burns), is a struggling screenwriter and is averse to any type of commitment. That is until he is suddenly successful for the first time in his writing and love; both pulling him in opposite directions. Patrick (McGlone) is torn between his devotion to his Catholic upbringing and his love for Susan, his longtime Jewish girlfriend.

Writer/director Edward Burns' film works well for the sole reason that it offers up a smarter and much more honest screenplay than its predecessors. The brothers deal not only with sex, but also with the moral dilemmas that come along with it. And unlike most films with male dominant lead roles, this film shows the women in each of the brother's lives as a bit smarter and surer of life than their counterpart.

Made for roughly $25,000 (a figure we are reminded of quite often on the commentary track!) the film doesn't really offer up a showcase for Burns, the director. For the most part, the screenplay does, however, as Burns writes some scenes perfectly, while others feel a bit heavy-handed. The scenes with Maxine Bahns near the end of the film are so well written that it makes it a bit frustrating that others aren't handled as well. Burns, the actor, takes a lead role himself, and while I find him a bit irritating, his self assuredness comes off well with the character of Barry. Mike McGlone is the standout in the role of Patrick, coming off as well here as in Burns' sophomore effort, She's The One, comes off a bit flat as Audry, the woman who steals Barry's heart. The only real low spot in the cast is Jack Mulcahy as the older brother, Jack, although he has come a long way since his starring roles in two Porky's films—just not long enough.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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 One Two
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen 1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes no
Anamorphicyes no

Image Transfer Review: Shot on 16mm film stock this isn't exactly a reference quality transfer, but it does get points because it's anamorphic and presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The film does show a little grain, but given the low budget nature of the source this is normal. The film has a very dull coloring to it, but very well done nonetheless. Black levels are fine, and both sharpness and detail come off well. A full frame 1.33:1 transfer is available (a double aspect ratio is a first from Fox), but the widescreen transfer is the way to go.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish and Frenchyes
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: A newly redone Dolby 2.0 channel mix is a nice improvement over the mono mixes featured on the laserdisc and VHS version of the film. As this is a dialogue heavy film the voices are easy to understand and are never hard to discern. Occasional uses of music give the mix a nice fullness as well. English and French mono tracks are also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English and Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Edward Burns
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A commentary by Burns is the highlight of the features, and it is a good track. Although the fact that he keeps reminding us of his non-existent budget does get old at times it is nice to hear about the struggles of making a small film. There aren't many breaks in the track and Burns does keep the discussion moving. A theatrical trailer and a web link round out the extras.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

The Brothers McMullen is an above average romantic comedy. If you are looking for a better Burns' movie I would recommend She's The One as it features better performances and a more cohesive screenplay. While The Brothers McMullen is at least worth a rental, I have no problem adding it to my collection.

Kevin Clemons 2000-10-12