The Brothers McMullen Blu-ray Review

In 1995, Edward Burns burst onto the scene with an independent film called THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN, about three brothers living in Long Island who are in the middle of three very different relationships.  Although the movie promised great things from Edward Burns, he failed to live up to the expectations, which perhaps says more about what people wanted to read into THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN than it does about Burns’ actual talent.  Although the movie has some nice insights and flashes of great dialogue, Edward Burns is not his generation’s Woody Allen.

The Brothers McMullen

The three brothers and their girlfriends/wives each represent a relationship at a certain stage.  The oldest brother, Jack (Jack Mulcahy) and his wife represent the married, bored couple, which culminates when Jack is confronted with an opportunity to cheat on his wife.  The youngest brother, Patrick (Michael McGlone) and his girlfriend represent the do or die stage in a relationship when a couple has to decide to break up or get married.  Then there’s the middle brother, Barry (Edward Burns) and his girlfriend, who represent the early stages of a relationship where you have to decide if you’re going to commit to the other person or not.

The Brothers McMullen

Each relationship is told very linear, which is a little disappointing since it would have been nice to have them weave and intertwine in a more sophisticated manner.  But this is Burns’ first directorial effort and the strength of the film is more in the dialogue he wrote than the way he directed it.  The dialogue is above average for what this is, but it’s delivered awkwardly at times, (due to inexperienced actors) which makes it hard to get to involved with the story.

But the main thing that hurts the film is the lack of decent, likeable characters.  Jack is cheating on his wife, Patrick is whiny and indecisive and Barry treats his new girlfriend like dirt for no reason other than he’s immature.  To top it off, all the women portrayed in the film are weak and seem to only live for their men or the hopes of finding a man.  Jack’s wife seemed to be okay with his infidelity, Patrick’s girlfriend was obsessed with getting married and Barry’s girlfriend remained in love despite Barry’s stupidity.

The Brothers McMullen

THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN is not quite the revelation today that it was in 1995 and we’ve seen similarly themed films that have done the relationship analysis thing better.  Burns himself improved slightly on this approach with his follow up film, SHE’S THE ONE (which was helped by a great Tom Petty song), and to be honest, I sometimes confuse the two movies since they’re so similar.  I appreciated the indie feel to the film and I definitely respect and admire Edward Burns for writing, directing and starring in his first film, but overall THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN is not something I would want to revisit.


Video:  Indie films never look great on Blu-ray, but Fox did a nice job keeping the original film quality rather than digitally enhancing it.  This Blu-ray release is “director approved” so this is the way it was meant to be seen.

Audio: I would have liked to of had this in surround, but if the original track was in mono, then I respect the decision.  It’s just odd to watch Blu-rays in mono these days.

The Brothers McMullen

Commentary by Writer/Director/Actor Edward Burns: A really interesting commentary from Edward Burns, as he goes into excruciating detail about various aspects of the film. If you are an aspiring film student you may want to sit and watch this one.

Fox Movie Channel Presents Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman (14:25): This little featurette talks about how THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN was the first film released by Fox Searchlight, which is a division of Twentieth Century Fox.

Theatrical Trailer


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