All the tabloid-weary critics who refused to give The Break-Up a chance should be sentenced to viewing this overwrought exercise in sensitive-male self-flagellation. A week before his marriage to pregnant fiance Sue (Brittany Murphy, in an aggressively unpleasant performance), Paulie (Burns) reunites with the four lifelong friends he’s invited to stand up at his wedding. The groomsmen aren’t so much characters as walking illustrations of the various lifestyle options available to men in their midthirties: There’s happily married family-man Dez (Lillard); Paulie’s unhappily married brother, Jimbo (Logue); cousin Mike (Mohr), still living at home with Dad; and long-lost friend T.C. (Leguizamo), whose secret you’ve probably already guessed.
The bulk of The Groomsmen finds the men paired off in various combinations, allowing ample time for lots of earnest (and eventually excruciating) heart-to-hearts about What It Means to Be a Man. As a writer, Burns never seems to have gotten the “show, don’t tell” message, and his penchant for having characters spill their guts undercuts the movie’s few highlights—a brief scene of Dez playing with his kids reveals more about his feelings on parenting than any amount of speechifying ever could have. (Opens Fri; Village East.) — Joshua Land