Yikes! It seems like an age since writer, director and actor Edward Burns was the hot property in Hollywood. His debut The Brothers McMullen wowed critics and audience on a tiny budget, announcing him as a major talent from the get-go of its award-winning Sundance premiere. Robert Redford himself is one of the named producers, and the cast is next level for 1996. Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, John Mahoney and more, with Burns himself in the lead just before his role in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. What could go wrong?
She’s the One did well on a smallish budget, but it seemed to douse enthusiasm for Burns. After capturing fraternal relationships so well in McMullen, he did the same trick but much less impressively here; Burns plays NYV cabbie Mickey Fitzpatrick, who meets and marries zesty student Hope (Maxine Bahns), igniting family tensions. Mickey’s ex Heather (Cameron Diaz) is having a fling with Mickey’s brother Franny (Mike McGlone), leaving his partner Renee (Jennifer Aniston) wondering is her husband is gay. Can errant pater familiar John Mahoney find the right words to pull his family together before relationships pull them apart?
With tart New York locations and a Tom Petty score, everything points to a potential classic, but She’s The One is so firmly focused on the men that the female characters are treated abysmally. Heather’s history as a sex worker is treated as such a black mark that it gets traded between the guys with wild enthusiasm to shame her, as if anyone with such a past should just give up on any kind of life at all; presumably Heather didn’t have the budget for boats in her family that might have indicated that she wouldn’t require a student loan.
There are flashes of mordant wit in the dialogue- ‘Dad, you don’t believe in God!’ ‘That doesn’t mean I can’t be a good Catholic…’ but Burns relies too heavily on playing the Irish brother card, and the reassurance that the characters require that Hope is not a honey-trap immigrant searching for a green card doesn’t help. She’s The One attempts to be adult and realistic about relationships, which is a good thing, but the problem with sensitive people, as this film reflects, is that the feelings they’re most sensitive about are their own.