The Brothers McMullen

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

After their father’s funeral, the McMullen brothers discover their mother is leaving to live in Ireland with the man she loves. This comes as a shock to them, but they have their own personal issues to deal with as it is and as long as she is happy, that’s what matters. The brothers are very close and as such, have no problems discussing their troubles and revealing secrets to one another, since they trust and have faith in each other. Each of the brothers has some type of love problem and it seems as though things will never turn around for them. Jack (Jack Mulcahy) has been married for some time and is pressured to begin a family, but he feels the time just isn’t right for him. The spark has also seemed to exit the relationship, which leaves Jack wondering what to do at this point. Things aren’t much better for Barry (Edward Burns), who finds him torn between the flame of true love and the flash of success, both of which he has never felt before. He has never given much thought to commitment before, but this could be the time to let things get serious…or is it? The final brother, Patrick (Mike McGlone) thinks he might have one true love of his life, but issues with religion and begins to have doubts of his own. Sooner or later these three will have to make some decisions, but will they make the correct choices?

I’ve been waiting for the films of Edward Burns to hit this format forever and thanks to folks at Fox, we can now have The Brothers McMullen on one of our beloved shiny discs. I’ll discuss the disc for a moment, then turn my attention to the film itself. The disc sports a new stereo mix and an excellent anamorphic transfer, which is all the more complimented by a superb commentary track by Burns. I figured I was in for a long wait until Burns’ films hit DVD, but now they’ve arrived and in very fine form. Simply put, Edward Burns’ movies She’s The One and The Brothers McMullen are among my very favorite films and with good reason. I am a sucker for a dialogue driven picture and Burns crafts a real winner with this, his debut motion picture. The low budget (Burns made this movie for around $25,000) doesn’t hamper things in the least, as Burns uses a natural and non spectacular approach to the movie. You don’t need special effects and massive set designs, when you can just shoot on the run and in your friends’ apartments, right? This is one of my personal favorites and I recommend you check it out, and with a disc like this you can be safe with a rental or purchase.

The man who fuels this film is Edward Burns, who some of you folks might remember from Saving Private Ryan. Before he donned the fatigues though, he wrote and directed this film, The Brothers McMullen. Burns made this film on a low budget and used his friends & family as much as he could, but in the end his work overcomes all limitations. As a writer Burns conjures up some natural, but interesting characters and places them into some unique situations, but ones we can still relate to. This movie seems so natural from start to finish it is amazing, but Burns makes sure we have plenty to laugh and connect with. As a director Burns is rather basic, but always comes away with just the right angle or placement. So while you won’t be dizzy from the camerawork, you’ll always see just what you’d like to. I think this basic style is highly effective and works just as well in She’s The One. Finally, Burns works in front of the camera as well and turns in a sparkling performance. I can’t imagine the difficulty involved in doing all these tasks, but Burns comes through with flying colors. This cast also includes Maxine Bahns (Chick Flick, Spin Cycle), Jack Mulcahy (Porky’s), Connie Britton (Tv’s Spin City), and Mike McGlone (The Bone Collector, One Tough Cop).

Video: How does it look?

The Brothers McMullen is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version included on the disc’s flip side. This was a low budget picture and as such, I expected a less than stellar transfer, but Fox has delivered the goods on this one. Some small print flaws emerge at times, but nothing serious and aside from some minimal moire patterns, no compression problems surface. The colors seem warm and natural, with no smears and flesh tones look fantastic and consistent. This film has a nice glow to it and this transfer captures that very well. The contrast proves to be no trouble either, as shadow depth is accurate and no detail gets lost in the transition. I didn’t think it would look this good, but Fox has made a believer out of me this time!

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a dialogue driven film at heart, so the included stereo mix is more than adequate. The music livens up the affair from time to time, but the dialogue is the main focus in this one. The vocals sound crisp and distinct at all times, I never had to turn up the volume to hear what was being said. A few scenes display some source problems with the audio, but this is not a flaw with this mix by any means. Some sound effects can be heard, but usually as background noise and not used in a fashion to make use of a home theater system. Mono tracks have also been included in English and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer and an insightful audio commentary with writer/director Edward Burns. This is one the most informative tracks I’ve heard, as Burns discusses not only this film, but also low budget filmmaking as a whole. He always has something interesting to say and never remains silent for too long, which is always a good thing. When he does go blank, the volume picks back up until he returns with more comments.

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