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The Groomsmen

This highly praised film follows the comic misunderstandings and adventures of a groom-to-be and his four attendants as they wrestle with issues related to friendship, fatherhood and maturity--a week before the big day.

Genre - Comedy

Director(s) - Edward Burns

Writer(s) - Edward Burns

Cast - Edward Burns, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Matthew Lillard and Jay Mohr

Blue Rider's Role - Executive producers and bridge financier

Distributor(s) - MGM, Bauer Martinez Studios, Hoyts Distribution

Release Date - 2006

Synopsis - Four thirtyish groomsmen, who grew up together in a close-knit suburban Long Island neighborhood, hang out for a few days with the imminent groom-to-be, Paulie (Edward Burns). Paulie's big brother Jimbo (Donal Logue), who has been yelling at his wife and frequenting strip bars, harbors some reproductive fears. T.C. (John Leguizamo) is secretly gay and hasn't told his friends yet. Paulie's cousin Mike (Jay Mohr), who lives with his father, is compulsively driven to win his ex-girlfriend back so he can start the family he dreams of--but she wants no part of him. Des (Matthew Lillard) is so fulfilled and grounded by proud fatherhood that his obsession with reviving the high school rock band seems innocuous.

Release Data:
The Groomsmen opened in the U.S. on July 14, 2006 and ran for 77 days, in a limited run a 1-26 theatres. It had a domestic gross of $128,911, plus foreign of $690,059 in Mexico, The Philippines and Spain. It has also come out on DVD in Greece, Finland, Hungary, Argentina and Iceland. It played on TV in Russia, Germany and Australia.

DVD Rental Revenue:
During its five-weeks on the charts in 2006, The Groomsmen grossed $3.81 million, ranking as high as #25.

Critics' Kudos
Mark Bell, Film Threat: "The Groomsmen is a feel-good treat, held afloat by the performances of its accomplished cast. Its realistic portrayal of an almost extinct small-town dynamic between friends and family is not to be missed. Credit where credit is due: Mr. Burns, you've turned out an incredible piece of cinema."

Stephen Holden, New York Times: "Edward Burns paints a scathing portrait of raucus high school buddies clutching at their rock n roll glory days as they push 35."

Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter: "The early promise in actor-filmmaker Edward Burns' 1995 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, the family comedy-drama The Brothers McMullen, bears fruit in The Groomsmen, his best film yet."

Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Edward Burns has a lot of heart. The Groomsmen rings true on many levels."

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: "The Groomsmen is honest and unpretentious. Burns knows his turf. The marvel is that after seven films he's still finding fresh grass."

Viewers' Ratings:
As of Feb. 26, 2009, more than 73.2% of the 2,079 viewers who rated The Groomsmen at Internet Movie Database gave it a positive rating--with the overall average rating being 6.5 out of 10. All demographic groups liked it, with those rating it highest being people 17 and younger (7.7), women 45 and older (6.5) and males 18-29 (6.3).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Edward Burns (Sheís the One, Sidewalks of New York, Ash Wednesday, No Looking Back; five awards and two nominations for She's The One and The Brothers McMullen).

Written by Edward Burns (Flight of the Phoenix, Ash Wednesday, No Looking Back, The Brothers McMullen, Looking for Kitty; won 1996 ShoWest Screenwriter of the Year Award).

Stars Edward Burns (The Holiday, 15 Minutes, Confidence, The River King); an acting award and another nomination for Saving Private Ryan); Brittany Murphy (Sin City, 8 Mile, Clueless and Girl, Interrupted); John Leguizamo (Die Hard 2, Romeo + Juliet, Collateral Damage, Assault on Precinct 13, Land of the Dead, Doctor Dolittle, Carlitoís Way; Emmy for Freak; four other awards and eight other nominations for works including Summer of Sam, King of the Jungle, Moulin Rouge, Spawn, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and Executive Decision); Matthew Lillard (Scream, Scream 2, Sheís All That, Hackers, Serial Mom, Spanish Judges; an acting award for SLC Punk and a nomination for Scooby-Doo); Jay Mohr (Jerry McGuire, Go, Pay it Forward, Jane Austen's Mafia; Emmy nomination for Last Comic Standing).

Cast includes Donal Logue (Jerry Maguire, The Patriot, American Splendor, Blade, The Thin Red Line, The Runaway Bride, Zodiac, Reindeer Games; Sundance Award winner for The Tao of Steve); Shari Albert (The Brothers McMullen, No Looking Back, Superman Returns, Why Do Fools Fall in Love?); Spencer Fox (Air Buddies, Kim Possible; two 2005 award nominations for The Incredibles); John Russo (New Rose Hotel, Rockabilly Vampire); Heather Burns (Youíve Got Mail, Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality) and Jessica Capshaw (Minority Report, The Love Letter, Valentine).

Executive producers: Karinne Behr (Wake of Death, Modigliani, The Flock) and Walter Josten (Around the World in 80 Days, Behind the Red Door, Home of the Giants; Emmy for The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie; 30 other films and TV projects).

Producers: Margot Bridger (Jesusí Son, Sidewalks of New York, Ash Wednesday, Looking for Kitty; nominations for two Independent Spirit producer awards; Edward Burns (She's the One, No Looking Back, The Fighting Fitzgeralds; 1996 Producers Guild Most Promising Producer Nova Award for The Brothers McMullen); Aaron Lubin (Looking for Kitty, Ash Wednesday, Purple Violets, Five-Fourths) and Philippe Martinez (Wake of Death, House of 9, Modigliani, In Her Defense, Ultimate Weapon).

Director of photography: William Rexer II (Prime, Book of Love, Unmade Beds).

Production designer: Dina Goldman (A Prairie Home Companion, The Business of Strangers, Tanner on Tanner).

Origial Music: Robert Gary (Looking for Kitty) and P.T. Walkley (Southern Belles, Purple Violets).

Costume designer: Catherine Marie Thomas (A Prairie Home Companion, Tape, The Matador, Ash Wednesday, Sidewalks of New York; Costume Designers Guild Award nomiations for Kill Bill I and II).

Film Editor: Jamie Kirkpatrick (Lost in Translation, Dark Water, Dave Chapelle's Block Party).

Set Decoration: David Schlessinger (Off the Map, Ed).

Quotes from the Writer-director-producer-star and from the lead actors:
Edward Burns originally dreamed up The Groomsmen as a broad comedy, but put it away, unfilmed. "Then, years later, after I got married, I went through all the stuff that goes with planning a wedding. My wife actually suggested I should take the script out and take a look at it again, try and write a more realistic version of what happens before a wedding. Thatís when I first got reintroduced to The Groomsmen. I wasnít so interested in the things groomsmen have to do as the wedding day approaches, but I was definitely interested in writing a story about men in their mid-30s reaching that age where they should be behaving like men yet they canít let go of their adolescent selves."

Burns also had the idea of fatherhood on his mind as he wrote, being the new father of a toddler. "Iíve done father/son stories before, but this my turn to look at the other side of that relationship.

"A film that I looked at that definitely inspired the telling of this story was Felliniís I, Vitelloni. When I saw the film I immediately identified with it because of the parallels to my own friends and the kind of community or neighborhood that I grew up in."

Burns points out that both Felliniís film and his own focus on "a bunch of good friends, who were way too old to be behaving the way they were, and set in a seaside town."

John Leguizamo, who plays the character T.C: "Behaving badly in your thirties isnít as cool as behaving badly in your twenties. T.C. is the kind of guy that moved away from everybody because he felt different. He leaves Long Island, moves to Manhattan, goes to college, has a whole different other life than he had with his friends. I guess he felt he missed something from his home town, something that he had from his youth. Even though he found himself, he wasnít complete until he came back and fessed up to all his friends. So, thatís what heís here for."

Matthew Lillard plays Dez, whom he describes as "a guy that marries his high school sweetheart and at age 21 gets her pregnant and has two boys. Itís funny because I have two kids. And itís been a long time since I have been able to see the first scene that I shot. I started at twelve oíclock at night; I think we shot until 12:30. We did about three pages of work. And in that scene I say to Paulie, ĎLook, what is your life without kids. Itís just free time. And whatís free time?í I remember as I was driving home that night, thinking those were the truest words Iíve ever spoken in a movie. So, for me itís really exciting as an actor. Youíre not running from a ghost. Youíre not running from scary things. The great thing about doing an Ed Burns movie is I'm dealing with stuff that means something to me as a man. The first time I read the script, they didnít say which part to think about, so I thoughtĖwith my history of being the funny sidekickĖIíd for sure be Cousin Mike. And Iím happy to report that Iím not the funny sidekick. I, oddly enough, am the sage of the group, which is shocking and a reason to see the movie for that alone."

Jay Mohr, who plays Cousin Mike: "Cousin Mike is Paulie and Jimboís cousin. Heís kind of like an Irish ĎGuidoí with a heart of gold. When I read the script for the third time I came up with the voice for Cousin Mike, which is a guy dat tawks like dis all da time. All the lines that were ordinary become sort of tender, and he became this sweet guy underneath. I really enjoyed the dichotomy of Cousin Mike acting like such an ape and actually being a sensitive, nice guy that Ed Burnsí character can actually confide in. He likes to listen to The Motelsí 'Only the Lonely' and drive his car."

Brittany Murphy: "Sue is a lot like me, and thatís due to Eddieís casting sense. A lot of his work seems like itís in the casting process. He actually gets the performance out of that person because he casts the human that has and obtains some of the qualities that he has already written."

Donal Logue: "Jimbo suffers from a form of sibling rivalry where the younger brother has his life together, always did what he wanted to do and pursued his dreams. Heís happily married, having children, and did everything Jimbo didnít do. The more his brotherís life is coming together, the more Jimbo realizes his life is completely out of control."

Logue feels that The Groomsmen captures a small- town feel that is rapidly disappearing in America. "I like those films that give you a sense of a time and a place and people, like Diner was with this group of friends in Baltimore, and this is with these brothers and this group of friends in Long Island. There was a style of American generational thingĖwhat you do in the summers and little league gamesĖand it almost feels like itís over, like weíll never have that kind of America again. Our kids wonít have it. And this film is a slice of that neighborhood and town life and buddy life. Itís very American."

Burns feels the suburbs havenít gotten a fair shake in the past few decadesí films and wanted to express his own affection for that lifestyle with The Groomsmen. "Iíve seen some films that paint a less-than-flattering picture of life in the Ďburbs, as if the suburbs cause or are responsible for a lot of that dysfunction. Even though I donít live in the Ďburbs, I still have a love affair with them. So, this was in part a reaction to some of those other films, but mostly just my looking back on the world I grew up in and wanting to paint a realistic picture of it."

"If one of the little birds starts spinning from the nest, the matrix of the family can suck it back in," says Logue. "Thatís one of the good things about the familial life in the suburbs."

Burns shot the film over a number of weeks in City Island, in the Bronx, and the Ditmas neighborhood of Brooklyn, both neighborhoods that donít generally come to mind when people think of New York. Burns and cinematographer William Rexer create an idyllic vision of suburban life, with vibrant green parks, tidy lawns and lovingly maintained Victorian houses. Itís what Burns calls "a love letter to New York." Burns states: "We are New York filmmakers. Itís important for us to tell New York stories, but even more important to tell those New York stories in New York City. Thatís a tough thing to do when you work with limited budgets like we had, but my producers and line producer, Margot Bridger, Aaron Lubin and William Perkins, have taken a $3.2 million budget and stretched it. Weíve gotten everything out of New York City that you can get."

Brittany Murphy adds: "Eddieís a no-frills filmmaker. Everything is so quick and wonderful. Heís the only writer/director that Iíve ever worked with that, if someone drops one little part of a speech out, heíll say, ĎIf it keeps dropping then itís not supposed to be there, because itís not organic and it doesnít feel real.í People asked me if Ed's Sidewalks of New York was all ad-libbed--and none of it was. All of his films have just a feeling of a natural, easy-flowing nature, and thatís what heís like, and thatís what his set is like. Everybody is here because they like working with Eddie, and that energy is really incredible to be around every day at work."

Lillard, who had just come off the big budget Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed, appreciated the "guerilla-warfare-like" quality of Burnsís set: "You go from a movie that takes three days to shoot three pages to shooting three pages here before lunch. Everyone comes together for the love of it, the creative aspect of it and the art of it. It has a spirit about it that makes it exciting to be a part of."

Leguizamo believes that as an actor himself, Burns has a way of making actors feel comfortable and energized in the atmosphere he creates: "He just lets you improvise and come up with your character, and play, but he does rein you in too when you need to be reined in."

Jay Mohr adds: "He's open to suggestions, and heís also not afraid to say, ĎNo, I donít like that idea.í"

Burns believes that he spends too much time on the screenplay to let the actors take their characters out too far from what he originally intended. "I think the best thing you can do as a filmmaker is cast actors that you respect, that are as close to the character that youíve written, and then you can just, a lot of times, keep more of a hands-off approach and let them bring a different kind of life to it."

"Itís fun," says Mohr. "Itís like hanging out with all of your friends, except there are camera-people bustling about all the time."

Leguizamo notes: "It feels like The Big Chill for the new millennium. Everyoneís in their mid-thirties/late-thirties, trying to figure out their lives, and yet their big reunion for the wedding is a big chance for conflicts, closure, and just crazy guys behaving badly."

Producer Quote:
Philippe Martinez: "The flair of Ed Byrnes is the key to this film's uniqueness. Audiences can relate to these characters, because they are very realistic. And the film benefits from a very strong cast.

"All these guys are between 25 and 35 and refuse to admit they are not adults; they still want to be boys. Ed Byrnes, in this film, as in all his movies, helps us understand the difficulty of going from young manhood to adulthood. These characters donít yet accept they are the age their fathers were when they were kids, and they have a lot of trouble accepting adult responsibility.

"I phoned Blue Rider and told them that 'it films in four weeks, and I needed $1.7 million right away, against the foreign rights.' They agreed within three days. Thanks to them, the film was made and did well."








Links:
Internet Movie Database entry for The Groomsmen

Official Site (Bauer Martinez)

Groomsmen trailer at worstpreviews.com

Groomsmen trailer at clevver.com

Groomsmen trailer in Quicktime format at apple.com

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