The Wedding Year

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

The Wedding Year
dir Robert Luketic
scr Donald Diego
prd Gary Lucchesi, Marc Reid, Mark Korshak
with Sarah Hyland, Tyler James Williams, Jenna Dewan, Matt Shively, Anna Camp, Zora Bikangaga, Wanda Sykes, Keith David, Kristen Johnston, Patrick Warburton, Noureen DeWulf, Camille Hyde
release US 20.Sep.19
19/US Lakeshore 1h30

dewan camp syles

williams and hyland
There's a sharp edge to this romantic comedy that makes it engaging, with lively characters and a silly premise that's genuinely amusing. While much of the movie is rather corny and predictable, there are some hilarious sequences along the way, mainly thanks to a cast adept at finding the funny side in their characters. And veteran director Robert Luketic definitely knows his way around the genre.
Quick-thinking Los Angeles shop-clerk Mara (Hyland) is great at helping people solve their romantic issues, but hasn't found a man for herself. Her gay best friend Alex (Shively) tells her she'd probably do better to date for love than for free meals. Indeed, her latest match is a chef, Jake (Williams), but their hookup develops into something lasting. Then both Mara's sister Jessica (Dewan) and Jake's brother Robbie (Bikangaga) announce that they're getting married. As do several of their friends, including Mara's boss Ellie (Camp). So now Mara and Jake have seven weddings to attend.
Each ceremony arrives with its challenges, some goofier than others. Of course, most of this involves the usual humour surrounding drunken dancing, embarrassing speeches and awkward reunions. Meanwhile, the banter between Mara and Jake snaps with observational wit as they analyse each couple that's getting hitched, while also tormenting various strangers they meet. It's never in doubt that the standard rom-com formula will kick in at the designated moment, but the sparky cast is adept enough to carry the audience through even the more stretched-thin set pieces.

Hyland is bubbly and sometimes a little too energetic, but she's always likeable as a fearless young woman who cuts through the nonsense around her. Her chemistry with the spirited Williams is charming, both when Mara and Jake are playing around and when they're getting sappy and romantic. So the scenes when they turn serious actually resonate strongly. "It takes more than love to make marriage work," Mara says. It sounds like a simple aphorism, but it also rings true in the moment.

In the final act, the script finally attempts to dip beneath the surface, exploring some rather profound things about the nature of marriage, most notably male and female roles in society. There's never much of a doubt about there this is headed, although at least it's possible to hold out hope that Diego's script might take a few left turns to get there. And it definitely makes us laugh, and perhaps even sigh, along the way.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 4.Sep.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall