'Groomsmen' Director's Enthusiasm Still Burns
More than a decade after 'The Brothers McMullen,' Burns stays indie
Promoting his new film "The Groomsmen" brings Burns back to LA's Le Meridian Hotel for the first time since the junket for "McMullen." Much has changed.
Another ensemble comedy, "Groomsmen" features Burns as a groom-to-be enjoying his last week of prolonged adolescence with the gang (Donal Logue, Jay Mohr, Mathew Lillard and John Leguizamo) from his suburban New York childhood.
"I always thought of it more as a love letter to my suburban experience, as a reaction to Todd Solondz's look at suburban life, or even 'American Beauty' ...," Burns explains. "Donal, he saw it as a love letter to the swan song of the American town."
Made on a budget of just over $3 million, "The Groomsmen" is another easy-going, conversation-driven film from Burns, the kind of film that enjoyed a commercial boom in the mid-90s, but hasn't found the same traction in recent years.
"It's harder to get these movies made than it's ever been," reflects Burns. "I can't believe that after 11 years, I'm like, 'I was in 'Saving Private Ryan,' you can't give me $3 million to make this movie?' But it's brutal. If I didn't get Brittany Murphy to be in this movie, I don't know that I would have made the film. I don't know if I would have gotten my finance and that's with this cast."
Burns originally wrote the "Groomsmen" script as a broad comedy, set it aside and then revisited it years later at the advice of wife Christy Turlington. After he rewrote the script, it became more complicated, more human and less commercial.
"Look, 'Wedding Crashers,' I love 'Wedding Crashers' -- I think that movie's great. 'Meet the Parents' is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen," he says. "However, those guys are making those movies and I fell in love with Woody Allen and Truffaut and I did not fall in love with Mel Brooks, and I'm trying to do a different thing and if that means that it has to be tougher then that just is what it has to be ... It wasn't this tough 10 years ago and it's interesting that it's gotten tougher."
The filmmaker admits that while straight acting gigs like "Saving Private Ryan" and "15 Minutes" initially boosted his profile for investors, disappointments like "Life or Something Like It" and "A Sound of Thunder" have made it harder to sell movies based on his name. While "McMullen" received a relatively wide release for a film of its size, "Groomsmen," earning him some of his best reviews in years, will open on a good deal more limited basis.
"We're being released on three screens," he sighs. "You will not see a television commercial for this movie. There will be a small ad in the New York Times. It is one of those films. It needs all of the 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' love that you can generate, just in order to ensure that it gets to the art house in Boston. Forget about if you live in St. Louis. Who knows if it'll ever make it there."
Viewers in New York and Los Angeles can show their support for "The Groomsmen" starting on Friday, July 14.