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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Wedding Bells

The Groomsmen on IMDb

Plot Overview

ballIrishmangraduatedFive friends from City Island, New York reunite seven­teen years out of high school to see one of them get hitched. They spend a week fishing, golfing, schmoozing, playing ball, and practicing band. Four are Irish-American and one Mexican-American; two are brothers and one their cousin.


happy familyMr. B (Arthur Nascarella) a denizen of The Foxy Hunt, a titty bar, explains to a couple of them how to be a man: “The definition of an adult,” he says, “is a person that has a job, is married, has kids, and owns a home.” By this definition Desmond “Dez” Howard (Matthew Lillard) passes with flying colors. He owns an Irish bar and at 21 got married. They have two boys—whom he adores—and they live in a house a couple blocks from Dez's. He trades off with his wife Tina (Shari Albert) driving the boys to school before he has to open the bar.

Paulie (Edward Burns) got “lucky” and has been living with his rich girl­friend Sue (Brittany Murphy) these past two years. She is five months pregnant now and they are planning a wedding in a week. He no longer has to commute but works at home on a computer for about an hour a day giving him free time to pursue personal interests. He remodels the baby's nursery. His was a bass-ackward approach to adult­hood: house–kid–wife–job.

lawn guyCousin Mike Sullivan (Jay Mohr) is working in his dad's landscaping business; it's the same job he's had since high school. He doesn't know any nice girls who are interested in marriage, but he moons over his ex girl­friend Jen (Jessica Capshaw) who dumped him for his adolescent ways. He lives with his kindly father who is trying to edge him out into the world.

gardenerPaulie's brother Jimbo (Donal Logue) does a man's work as manager of an office supplies company, supplemented by odd jobs that he has trouble keeping. He didn't show up for a land­scaping gig as being the best man he was busy with wedding preparations. His wife Julianna “Jules” (Heather Burns) wants lots of kids, but it's no go after a year of trying, and the doctor tells him he's unable to make babies. Bummer!

That leaves Tony “TC” (John Leguizamo) who's short and gay, neither condition likely to change anytime soon.


Dez and Tina share fond remembrance of their high school “glory days.” Having gone to the same parochial school advantages their marriage, as might be expressed by author George Cable regarding an engagement announcement: “‘And one thing of the largez' importanz [sic], Mrs. Chezter,’ madame said with sweet enthusiasm, ‘—the two they are of one riligion!’” (310) Theirs is a harmonious alliance as they bring up their children.

It's unclear whether Jimbo and Jules are similarly matched, they went in the same circle but we're not told if they were in the same school. Paulie met Sue on the Staten Island Ferry that carried all religions. Cable hedges their bets:

“I think you're right and to be congratulated.”

The whole coterie felt a glad thrill. “Ah, madame,” Beloiseau exclaimed, “you are co'-rec'! But, any'ow, in a caze where the two faith' are con-tra-ry 'tis not for you Protestant' to be distres' ab-out! You, you don' care so much ab-out those myzterie' of bil-ief as about rule' of conduc'. Almoze, I may say, you run those rule' of conduc' into the groun'—and tha'z right! And bis-ide', you 'ave in every­thing—politic', law, trade, society—so much the upper han'—in the bes' senze—ah, of co'se in the bes' senze!—that the chil'ren of such a case they are pretty sure goin' to be Protestant!” (310–11)

prayingThe team knelt and prayed the Lord's Prayer before the ball game as was their custom. Both Protestants and Catholics, of course, pray the “Our Father.” Catholics are kneelers more than are Protestants. The fill-ins joined them but didn't remove their hats.

MadonnaThese five best friends routinely addressed each other as “cuz” or “bro” whether or not they were so related. The English word brother is expansive enough in some contexts to include cousins, as are both brother and sister in Greek. When the Bible mentions Jesus's brothers or sisters, the Catholics (and Orthodox) say those are his cousins. The Protestants are most literal here saying they're Jesus's younger half-siblings. This has given rise to a difference of opinion regarding the perpetual virginity of Mary, but this mystery is not pursued further here.

card playersRules of conduct found in the prayer are another matter. “Thy will be done” is established when Paulie marries Sue after knocking her up. He plays the cards he was dealt, though to be sure he loves her and would have married her anyway.

“Give us this day our daily bread” is illustrated when Dez bribes his boys with junk food to get them to help their dad unload groceries from the mini van.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” can be applied to TC's tall & straight pop asking his forgiveness (“Perdóneme”) for rejecting him. Also to TC having childishly stolen a base­ball card from Jimbo. It had sentimental value to the latter but only turned out to be worth $40. I suppose that's like in later years gays appropriating marriage as a forty dollar word to describe what is still for them but a domestic partner­ship lacking the mysteries and traditions of when it occurs with heteros.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In one of the Deleted Scenes, at the bachelorette party, the girls discuss being led into temptation to “go all the way” (before marriage,) which is a sin, but that lesson doesn't show up in the movie proper. TC's homo­sexual practice led to his dad suggesting therapy as part of the “old school” remedy. David Burns, M.D. has given one example of a workable therapy in his popular 1985 book, Intimate Connections, pp. 239–40, but none is tried in The Groomsmen. Jimbo visits The Foxy Hunt and makes to go off with stripper Crystal (Amy Leonard) until TC inter­venes. An example of practicing continence is related in a story in which Sister Dorothy with­held permission for Mikey to exit class for the boys room though he was clearly in distress. Nuns get a bad rep for being cruel to boys, though to be sure, she her­self had to practice sexual continence being under vows of chastity. Her advice to Mikey was, “Stop being such a baby.” Homos, if the therapy doesn't work and they aren't cured miraculously, just have to suck it up, too, if they want to avoid sexual sin. Heteros have the option of divinely sanctioned marriage, but they need to be faithful to their spouses.

churchThe wedding is to take place in a church, but who knows, that may be just to please the parents.

Production Values

” (2006) was written and directed by Edward Burns. He starred in it as well, with Jay Mohr, Donal Logue, John Leguizamo, Matthew Lillard, and Brittany Murphy. The whole cast did well, especially Mohr & Leguizamo.

MPAA rated it R for pervasive language and brief nudity. The characters are suitably developed, the acting is low key, the cinema­tog­raphy is choice and the music both good and apropos. Runtime is 1 hour 38 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This is a well made movie benefiting from the director being also the writer resulting in primo cohesion. Though it does tread in the well-worn footsteps of many Hollywood buddy flicks, it never drags but frequently changes perspective. This would be a good one to take a date to if you're uncertain about her tastes—good humor and nothing too offensive. I can recommend it also as a reliable standby if you can't decide what to watch on a given evening.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print, memory.

Cable, George W. The Flower of the Chapdelaines. Copyright, 1918, by Charles Scribner's Sons. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918. Print.