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Characters who step out of their relationship and into real life
The opening scene of "Newlyweds" looks like it could have come out of any Woody Allen movie (or "Husbands and Wives" to be more specific). Two couples are sitting in a restaurant discussing the various ins and outs of married life. And then they turn to the camera and start saying what they really think. The editing from typical romantic dramedy-styled scenes to documentary-styled scenes is where the comedy comes in.
It's a smart comedy where the humour is born from the characters and the dialogue. Buzzy (Edward Burns) and Katie (Caitlin Fitzgerald) are in their first year of marriage and are trying to be down-to-Earth and realistic about it. Communication and not spending much time with each other is key. On the converse, Buzzy's best friend Max and Katie's sister Marsha are in their eighteenth year of marriage and they are disgusted by Buzzy and Katie's attitude. Marsha can't stand Buzzy and that's what it all comes down to.
I was originally a little put-off by the documentary-styled revelations and worried that an entire movie about the differences between two couples would become irritating quickly. But that's exactly when a new wrench was thrown into the mix in the form of Linda (Kerry Bishé), Buzzy's sister. In the beginning we had husband versus sister-in-law where somehow the sister managed to keep herself on the side of "right", but now we have wife versus sister-in-law and nobody is going to get out of that catfight unscathed.
I was constantly delighted with how each character would respond to Linda's antics which involves a lot of guy-obsessed drunken behaviour. Their passive-aggressive covers devolved into semi-aggressive acts. And just like in "Carnage", it still remains funny.
I wouldn't be surprised if some people take offense to the writing of the female characters in this film as they were all despicable in their own way. Edward Burns' Buzzy was the only one written so "cool" that he remained likable and sympathetic throughout, or at least to me.
I've been an Edward Burns fan since "The Brothers McMullen" (1995) and it's impressive how he keeps letting his writing shine through. Made for only $9,000 "Newlyweds" is on the skimp side of settings and shot set-ups, but as this proves you really only need a handful of characters who come to life to make a good film.
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