Sunday, November 25, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Newlyweds

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

Newlyweds is a drama/faux documentary/possible comedy written and directed by as well as starring Ed Burns. The thrust is following a week or so in the life of Buzzy (Burns) and Katy, a recently married couple who boast about having a simple and drama-free relationship and watching it fall apart. The plot is framed by Buzzy's wild child younger half sister coming to town trying to recapture the guy whose proposal she turned down while disrupting their home life as well as Katy's older sister and brother-in-law--the former hates Buzzy, the latter set him and Katy up--coming to the end of their 18-year marriage. I didn't like a lot about this movie. First of all and prevalent throughout is the "unexplained documentary" aspect, a trope that sometimes works fine on sitcoms where absurdity is part of the package and you don't need full explanation, but trying to figure out why cameras are following this couple around, why they are sometimes acknowledged and sometimes not, and how they're clearly still present during private moments is annoying, particularly when you get the sense the answer is simply that it makes exposition easier. The relationship between Buzzy and Katy is banter-heavy to start, which made me think romantic comedy, but this movie is clearly not that, though it tries to mix in screwball stuff occasionally with awkward timing. Burns is a winning actor and I liked him here despite being bored by the film itself, his charm lending at least some ease to the spinning wheel; as a director, he's smart and daring, shooting the entire thing on a Canon 5D; as a writer, he can do much better. Speaking of falling short, I've enjoyed Kerry Bishe when I've seen her elsewhere (the underrated final season of Scrubs), but as screw up younger sister Linda she misses the mark completely with a forced accent and extreme mood swings, taking cues the script gave her and shooting past her mark. Caitlin Fitzgerald is fine as Katy; she has good chemistry with Burns, but not a lot to do and is better during the breezy segments than the heavier stuff (though again, I tend to blame the script). Marsha Dietlin and Dara Coleman are the acting MVPs as Katy's droopy-eyed judgmental older sister and pretentiously idiotic ex husband respectively; both are genuinely funny. I've always had a fondness for the concept of Ed Burns, because I enjoy him as an actor and he seems to have good sensibilities, but this makes me want to go back and re-examine some of his older work to figure out if he had an off day or if I was wrong. I don't recommend Newlyweds.