Kevin Smith and Edward Burns both made impressions with their self-financed, super low budget film debuts, with 'Clerks' and 'The Brothers McMullen,' respectively, turning very low costs into solid profit, and simultaneously putting both men on the map. That's where the comparison between these men ends. While both would turn to the studio system in their next features, with actual budgets to boot, Burns didn't flop like a fish out of water, and certainly didn't put out 'Mallrats.' Instead, he made an honest, interesting relationship film that works in a variety of contexts, with plenty of layers and nuance to draw a viewer in to one aspect or another.
'She's the One' isn't a film that can be described with a simple synopsis, due to its structure. Burns plays the lead role, Mickey Fitzpatrick, a loser cab driver in New York City, and the catalyst for the entire film is the uncharacteristic leap he takes with Hope (Maxine Bahns), a woman he picks up to take to the airport. The pair fall for each other and end up getting married at someone else's wedding, despite not knowing each other for more than a single day. Their whirlwind elopement exposes us to the romantic in Mickey, and the passion a new relationship often evolves from. Mickey's slightly younger brother Francis (Mike McGlone), though, is a different story, as he's taken to abstaining from his wife Renee (Jennifer Aniston), because he feels he'd be cheating on his girlfriend (Cameron Diaz as Heather) if he slept with anyone else.
Aside from the obvious id, ego, and superego elements of 'She's the One,' there's always something going on beneath the surface, as the relationships between characters are more complicated than "they met, they fell in love." Mickey's vagabond lifestyle, caused from a traumatic split with an ex-fiance, counters the Wall Street high roller digs openly flaunted by Francis, with a sibling rivalry that is only entertained by the younger, cockier Fitzpatrick. His spur of the moment marriage creates an open resentment, as no one, not Francis or anyone got to be at the wedding, yet, despite the unfamiliarity the pair share, Mickey and Hope's marriage is what Francis may secretly envy.
Heather, meanwhile, opens the door for the major conflict and strife. When Mickey finds out Francis is sleeping with the blonde bombshell, who just so happens to be his ex-fiance, whose past is littered with dirty secrets, his relationship with Hope is put on the line, and not for the typical Hollywood "rekindling" of affections. Rather, by trying to do the right thing for his brother, he steps in the proverbial dog shit that won't scrape off the bottom of his shoe. The headstrong and cocksure Francis, though, is about as good a listener as he is a lover, as Heather's other man, an oft-mentioned but never seen geriatric, proves to be a better fit for her, sexually. Cue insecurity and meltdown.
The story further complicates with the unknown, the things that Mickey and Hope didn't learn about each other before they ran off and got married, as Hope's hopes (I know...) and dreams for her future aren't about to be thrown away, and she needs her husband to understand and go along with them, or let her do what she's always wanted to on her own. With both Mickey and Hope's supporting crew (including Leslie Mann as Hope's best friend) pulling them in different directions, with various amounts of bad or worse advice, the lovebirds have to get through their first row, one that may be prove big enough to overpower every positive they have in their newfound life together.
'She's the One' is not your typical romantic comedy-slash-drama. It's actually amazingly crafted, with each side plot getting its share of time in the sun, alternating back and forth against the main narrative, so that no single story gets lost along the way, and we keep track on all the characters (what few are in this film) easily and naturally. With the brothers and sometimes their father (played by John Mahoney) constantly arguing or getting into scrapes with each other, as a family of bullheaded men, their conversations and time together further stitch the plot together, transitioning from one adult theme to another. I do want to stress the word adult here, as this film earned its "R" rating for its fairly-frequent and sometimes blunt conversations about sex, which is an obvious motivating factor in the movie.
Burns, bless his heart, used to be able to act something fierce. Here, in only his second film, he's the best member of the cast, capturing mannerisms, timing, and expressions and activities when not actively speaking, despite having to keep track of other actors, seeing as he directed the picture, as well. His performance is applaudable, and not just in the selfish way some writer/directors give themselves all the "good" lines or memorable situations. McGlone, however, doesn't pass mustard, and comes across as the film's weakest link, a fitting place seeing as he's also the weakest character, in terms of mental fortitude. Aniston breaks the "Rachel" mold nicely, and even prepares herself for what was about a five year span of "scorned lover" roles with a nice performance, and while Diaz doesn't come close to capturing a character in the same fashion, she at least doesn't stink up the joint like she has in many other films. Many, many other films. Chemistry between roles, regardless of performance, is notably positive, though I couldn't buy the Mann-Bahns friendship, as we never had any sign the two were friends other than them saying they were.
While its premise is a tad out there in regards to a level of spontaneity best left not acted upon, the results of the coming together of two different people creates an interesting clash with family and friends of both parties, even if it's somewhat convoluted that all three men in a family are going through marriage issues all at the same time, all from different circumstances. 'She's the One' manages to juggle a number of plots with ease, though, and the sometimes difficult to swallow relationship becomes the strongest, most meaningful and believable one in the story. Perhaps this is a film best left to those who have had time to age a little and experience a few failures in love to truly appreciate and understand and relate to it. I can say without doubt I'd have been less open and positive towards this movie if I were to have seen it just ten years ago. This is definitely an adult film, and it most definitely hits the spot, especially with all the failed films in recent years aimed at the same audience.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'She's the One' comes to Blu-ray on a Region A marked BD50 disc from Fox. This, along with three other titles, is in the first wave of a "filmmakers signature series" line, which features a signature on the box art (obvious), a moodier cover than its DVD counterpart, and a nice, amazingly detailed booklet, along with a slipcover that replicates the cover art. For an undisclosed amount of time, all four titles in this line are being sold exclusively at Best Buy stores, at least domestically, and those looking to avoid this chain or window will probably have to wait for six to twelve months to see a wide release, based on other titles from the distributor that went the same route.
While the "filmmakers signature series" release of 'The French Connection' mentions a remastering on the package all bold and pronounced atop the blurbs, 'She's the One' has its quality details buried in the middle of the studio-made selling blurbs. Supposedly, and I do want to stress that word, this disc boasts high quality picture and sound, true to the director's vision, thanks to an all new HD transfer. Their words, not mine. I suppose that wording would sell a lot more copies of a disc than saying "Just buy it."
This 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer isn't quite disaster territory, but at times, it comes awfully close. Thankfully, it is amazingly clean, with only a few tiny scratches along the short journey, with no real dirt blobs to even make note of, while the picture is perfectly constant in terms of staying straight and never wavering. Aliasing is never an issue, nor is banding, not even in the sky shots, as they have perfect transitioning color gradients...and that right there is all the positives I can say about this disc, as the rest is a joke. You know those two buzz terms used in this section of a review, digital noise reduction (aka DNR) and edge enhancement? Yeah, they're pretty much all over the place. Some shots are painfully noisy, more so than the audio ever is, and a good handful are flat as can be. Color warmth varies throughout the picture, which takes place over the course of one month, not exactly a big season changer with different temperatures or anything like that. White shirts and eyes have a little bit of blue to them on the occasion that they don't look like amorphous blobs that have gained sentience and aim to absorb the actors beneath them. No joke, I seriously thought on a few occasions, especially with Cameron Diaz's white-on-white attire, that her clothing had sinister, murderous intentions. Textures, well, sometimes they're there, which is great, but other times they're DNR'd away. Blurry. Gone.
What amazes me is the noticeably low quality standard found here, despite the absolute absence of any compression artifact of any kind. This isn't recall worthy, especially since not enough people will buy it and make a loud enough outcry, but it is most certainly condemnable. Hey, people in charge of this supposed new HD transfer- are you sure that the right transfer made it onto the disc?
The audio on 'She's The One' (I keep having to make sure I don't write 'She's All That', boy that'd be embarrassing) doesn't fare much better than the video. Presented in 2.0 with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, there's really very little to speak of on this one...at least in terms of compliments. Dialogue can sometimes have a slight tin to it, while comprehension of said dialogue is a real disaster anytime Diaz is on screen, as she mumbles through the film as though she were embarrassed. Separation hardly exists, and prioritization can be problematic, particularly with the Tom Petty music coming in a bit too loud, louder than dialogue or ambience, especially in the opening scenes where every word matters most. Ambience isn't consistent, and range is non-existant. This track is just there, and it doesn't care if it doesn't take you places.
'She's the One' is a genuinely good film. It has also made for a genuinely bad disc. There's a lot going wrong with this one, visually, and the audio is far from impressive. I don't exactly know what this "filmmakers signature series" junk is supposed to be, but this disc reminds me of another series or collection on Blu-ray: The Studio Canal Collection. A booklet is always nice, this one being a real keeper, and slipcovers, hey, I can sell them to people desperate for 'em, but what matters most is the quality of the disc, not the fancy gimmicky junk to try to get it bought, and while it's a designation I don't like using, this is a perfect example of a good flick on a bad disc.