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Joy of Irish Sex

The Brothers and Sisters McMullen: Mike McGlone and Jennifer Aniston mull over their marital woes in Edward Burns' "She's the One."

'Brothers McMullen' director takes another look at Catholic guys

By Richard von Busack

THERE ARE LITTLE movies, the kind of independents that need nurturing. And then there are little little movies, ostensibly about real people but as stylized and two-dimensional as any overgrown, half-bright actioner. She's the One falls solidly in the second category.

Edward Burns' follow-up to The Brothers McMullen is immaculately free of gratuitous sex and violence, and it's about average Irish-Catholic guys. It sits you down and gives you a good talking to about how boys ought to be better to girls. Inevitably, the women are either demanding, threatening or lesbian. Again, as in The Brothers McMullen, the mother of the family is invisible, like Jesus in a 1950s Bible movie.

By focusing on two brothers instead of three, Burns avoids the "Larry Fine syndrome" that made The Brothers McMullen unwieldy. Since there's no third brother to get lost in the shuffle, Burns can make the drama a story of simple contrasts: the head-in-the-clouds taxi driver Mickey (Burns), who is contrasted with his hard-charging Wall Street brother, Francis (Mike McGlone). Mickey has a "meet-cute" with Hope (Maxine Bahns), a waitress who gets in his taxi. The two end up married after knowing each other for 24 hours.

The family is angry. Francis in particular projects his own marital failings onto Mickey's irresponsibility. He's not sleeping with his wife, Rene (Jennifer Aniston), and we soon learn why. Francis is carrying on a secret affair with the woman who previously broke Mickey's heart. She's the calculating Heather (Cameron Diaz), and Francis, being faithful to the faithless mistress, is cutting off his wife. "You can't go back to a Buick after driving a Porsche," Francis explains--rather an insult to Aniston's elegant chassis, memorably displayed in Rolling Stone.

The tangle certainly makes for a more interesting situation than The Brothers McMullen, but Burns limits it by leaving the women characters as incomplete sketches. As an unlikely second-act plot development, Hope is accepted to the Sorbonne and Mickey has to decide whether or not he's going to Paris. There's no indication of what she's going to be studying there--waitressing? And even for comedy, Rene's sexual frustration is illustrated patronizingly, with vibrator jokes Blake Edwards wouldn't touch. And how can an ostensible business genius like Francis not realize that Heather, who has no visible means of support and lives with an older man, is in some sort of illegal, if time-honored, trade?

She's the One appeals to guy fantasies of romance. The girls who dumped us for not having our acts together turn out to be whores anyhow. But Burns tries to mitigate the inherent sexism with a subplot about the guy-only fishing boat that gets integrated at the end of the film. Burns seems to be learning, slowly, and if he ever gives women's dilemmas the same weight as men's dithering, he might improve. What's on screen here, though, is more of the usual, disguised as a lyrical little movie about you and me.

She's the One, (R; 97 min.), directed by Edward Burns, photographed by Frank Prinzi and starring Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz and Mike McGlone.

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From the August 22-28, 1996 issue of Metro

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