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This angst-filled tale of three Irish-Catholic brothers explores men's relationships with women. Three different situations are set up on parallel plotlines, with each brother facing a different kind of crisis. Their common bond as family, as well as close lifelong friends, allows them to express their feelings frankly and intimately, as they talk and discuss their concerns among each other. Jack finds himself in a marriage gone stale and under pressure to start a family that he does not yet feel ready for. Barry, dedicated to his film career and almost pathologically averse to any type of commitment in a relationship, is suddenly artistically successful and finds true love, both for the first time and both pulling him in opposite directions. Patrick is torn between his love for his religion and ethnic heritage and his love for Susan, his longtime Jewish girlfriend. Ultimately, they are all asked to resist temptation of one sort or another, with various poignant outcomes.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
I never saw "The Brothers McMullen" in the theater, but I just watched it on video. I have to say that I liked it in spite of its flaws. It just had this superficial, breezy feel to it, like it's really not a movie but a pilot for a sit-com. All it's missing is the laugh-track.
The stories about the three brothers were well done, especially Barry's story (the middle brother). But I kept thinking the most interesting character in this story is the dead father, and he's not even in the movie. The brothers mention their father several times, usually in some disparaging way. You don't find out many facts about him, except that their mother never loved him. Apparently the sons didn't love him either.
The three brothers are desperate, each in their own way, to not end up like their father. The dead Mr. McMullen was characterized as an alcoholic, wife-abusing, stern and unhappy man. And yet Mr. McMullen had no trouble committing to one woman, which apparently Barry can't manage to do. Mr. McMullen remained faithful (apparently) in a 35 year marriage and raised 3 sons, which oldest son Jack can't bring himself to do. Mr. McMullen remained true to his religious and cultural upbringing, which youngest son Patrick is about to turn his back on when he splits for California.
So maybe that father wasn't such a failure after all. The sons won't realize this until they become husbands and fathers themselves. But they haven't reached that point yet, they're still growing up and figuring things out. It's nice to see how they help each other and take turns giving "parental" advice to each other.
I'd like to see this same story with these same characters, told 20 years before, and 20 years after the time of this movie. I'd like to meet the mother in Ireland as she greets her American grandchildren. Now that would be an interesting sequel.
11 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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