Blue-collar life, Part II Review: 'She's the One' feels a lot like director-star Ed Burns' acclaimed first movie, 'The Brothers McMullen,' which was the real one.

August 23, 1996|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC

"She's the One" isn't so much an advancement as it is a lateral move in Ed Burns' career.

He already made this movie, or one pretty much like it, in "The Brothers McMullen," and though the budget is higher and the cast more professional and the lighting much better, it doesn't feel much like growth.

The movie's another study of the intimate lives of an exceedingly comely, masculine Irish family, aristocrats of the blue-collar world in which they move. This is a little annoying: The two Fitzpatrick boys are so good-looking (Burns himself and Mike McGlone, who also appeared in "The Brothers McMullen"), and their lives are so well-fortified with deeply attractive women who all but throw themselves at their feet, that they almost instantly distance themselves from the empathy of those of us in the new victim class called the beauty-impaired.

It's like a movie about people who are so darn rich that they keep forgetting where they parked their Benzes -- oh, no, no, today's a Porsche day, it's not even a Benz day! Oh, they hate it when that happens! I suppose it could be argued that the pain felt by the handsome is just as hurtful as the pain felt by the normal but I think that's crap.

Anyhow, Mickey Fitzpatrick (Burns), the older boy, drives a cab while his feisty, highly competitive younger brother Francis (McGlone) pulls down $500,000 a year on Wall Street.

Mickey is recovering from being abandoned by his (ho-hum) beautiful fiancee a few years back.

Francis, meanwhile, is sleeping with a beautiful but somewhat dubious young woman (Cameron Diaz) while drifting apart from his beautiful wife (Jennifer Aniston, in not much of a role).

One day, an extremely beautiful girl (Maxine Bahns) all but hurls herself at Mickey in his cab; the two become an instant item, which annoys everybody, but not nearly as much as the eventual realization that Francis' inamorata is the young woman who dumped Mickey.

The plot isn't a lot; much better is the business. In other words, Burns doesn't have much of a sense of dramatic structure and skillful arrangement of event, but he has a lot of charm, and he's particularly savvy on the neat little games boys and girls play with and against each other, and also at the odd wiring that messes up most brother-brother relationships. This is a movie that impresses at the level of detail much less than at the level of story.

Bahns is beautiful, but she's not a natural actress, and her scenes with other actors seem the most forced. When she's alone with Burns she's fine, primarily because they are very close friends in real life (they traveled together promoting "The Brothers McMullen").

I do think Burns misses with one character, however, Cameron Diaz's femme fatale, who seems to have wandered in from a remake of a James M. Cain project. She's just too heavy a conceit, even to the point of being given a background in prostitution. Does Burns think if a woman has more than a very few partners, she's got to be a whore? She feels more like the ravings of an imagination that took its "Film Noir 101" course work too literally. She's almost a stereotype.

By contrast, the most amusing character is the ever-affable John Mahoney as the patriarch of the wayward Fitzpatrick clan. He gives consistently terrible advice, which his sons follow, which messes up their messy lives even more. I like that in a father.

'She's the One'

Starring Edward Burns, Maxine Bahns and Mike McGlone

Directed by Edward Burns

Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Rated R (language, sexual situations)

Sun score: ** 1/2

Pub Date: 8/23/96

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