*1/2 (out of four)
Breaking news: When you get married, you will inevitably deal with your spouse’s family and exes in some capacity!
This is the major insight of writer-director Edward Burns’ inane “Newlyweds,” which has nothing in common with “Bridesmaids” but shares a lot with many other sources. Burns (“The Brothers McMullen”) bites conflict from a “Seinfeld” episode, a line from “Chasing Amy” and needlessly has characters address the camera ala “The Office” to comment on what just happened.
Meanwhile, Linda (Kerry Bishe), who could be in the dictionary under “hot mess,” feels like a thinly sketched combination of Charlize Theron’s destructive home-wrecker in “Young Adult” and Carey Mulligan’s damaged drama fiend in “Shame.”
Linda travels from L.A. to New York, where she finagles a temporary stay with her half-brother Buzzy (Burns, who shouldn’t name characters “Buzzy”) and his new wife Katie (Caitlin Fitzgerald)—who are convinced their marriage will succeed because work schedules often prevent them from seeing each other. Add in Linda’s recently married ex (Johnny Solo), Katie’s recovering alcoholic Irish ex (Dara Coleman), Katie’s intolerable sister (Marsha Dietlin) and her unhappy husband (Max Baker), and Burns has cooked up a big steaming pot of family dysfunction.
But he forgets to save any issues for his own character. “Newlyweds” revolves around a nice, innocent guy and the messed-up people around him. Burns seems to think he’s the first guy to ruminate about the reasons people get married. He recognizes the problems, but stops before making a statement about them, giving his film an exasperated tone that achieves nothing profound. Buzzy questions what thoughts are better kept to himself; until he has more to say, Burns should follow his own advice.
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