LOVE, WEDDING, MARRIAGE (2011)
Starring Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz, Jessica Szohr, Jane Seymour, James Brolin, Michael Weston, Monica Acosta, Alyson Hannigan, Joe Chrest, Sarah Lieving, Beau Brasso, Richard Reid, Michael Showers, Michael Arata, Mindy Caraccioli, Dean J. West, Cynthia LeBlanc, Marta Zmuda, Douglas M. Griffin, Elton LeBlanc, Charlotte Biggs, Autumn Federici and the voice of Julia Roberts.
Screenplay by Caprice Crane & Anouska Chydzik Bryson.
Directed by Dermot Mulroney.
Distributed by IFC Films. 91 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Love, Wedding, Marriage has been met with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for IRS audits and dental surgery.
Which got me thinking: how bad could it possibly be? Sure, it looks pretty awful and has a ridiculously redundant title, but the world is full or pretty awful romantic comedies. Hell, Love, Wedding, Marriage star Mandy Moore starred in two of them (Because I Said So and License to Wed) just a few years ago. Watching those two films ranks as some of the hardest work I’ve done as a film critic.
And yet the venom being spewed on Love, Wedding, Marriage is historic. It has received a record 0% on the Rotten Tomatoes website, which essentially means that of all the stories written on the film it has not gotten a single positive review. Think about that. Even the worst films in the world – and we’re talking the level of filmmaking of such classic stinkers as Plan 9 From Outer Space, Freddie Got Fingered, Battlefield Earth, Gigli or Troll 2 – have had some positive reviews. For the record, the few other films ever to get a zero from Rotten Tomatoes include the awful Antonio Banderas/Lucy Liu action folly Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Matthew McConaughey’s vanity project Surfer, Dude and a completely unnoticed Ed Burns sci-fi called One Missed Call.
So, again, just how bad could Love, Wedding, Marriage be? How could it be that much worse than the two other rom-coms I mentioned earlier, or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Sweetest Thing, Failure to Launch, Good Luck Chuck, All About Steve, Jersey Girl, Monster-in-Law or What About the Morgans? Is it even the worst Mandy Moore movie ever?
I decided that I had to find out – if only so that you don’t have to. Therefore, I plunked down the money for the VOD rental and steeled myself for the worst. Is Love, Wedding, Marriage the worst film ever?
The answer is no.
Oh, it’s bad. Pretty awful, in fact. It is formulaic, lazy, poorly written, stupid and passes off caricatures as characters. It’s not even bad in an interesting way. Its ineptitude is completely due to laziness and neglect; it is not from some complete lack of talent. The components for an okay movie were in place, it was just that no one cared to take the time to make the film interesting or watchable or even bearable.
BUT it is really not all that much worse than any of those other romantic comedies mentioned before. (And since that is the only even marginally positive statement, I’ve seen in even a single review on the film, part of me wonders if that quote will end up being used prominently on the video box.)
Love, Wedding Marriage has Moore starring as Ava – a hopeless romantic who was so inspired by her parents’ long, happy union that she became a professional marriage counselor.
She has also just married the man of her dreams, a himbo played my Twilight co-star Kellan Lutz.
I bet you can just see what is coming, can’t you? As she is preparing for her parents’ thirtieth wedding anniversary party, they announce they are getting a divorce. And Ava, despite being a professional at these kinds of things who knows the divorce rate in this country, reacts as if she is a seven-year-old girl, determined to reunite her parents as if she somehow hopped a time machine and landed in The Parent Trap.
Of course, the more she tries to save her parents’ relationship, the further apart she drives them. And the more she concentrates on her parents’ marriage, the more she neglects her own.
Can you say wacky complications?
Ava’s parents are played by savvy pros James Brolin and Jane Seymour, and frankly their roles are embarrassing.
Seymour is forced yet again to play the cougar mama role that has become her stock-in-trade since another, better wedding movie, The Wedding Crashers.
Brolin’s one real character trait is that he has suddenly decided the embrace his Judaism after a lifetime of not being religious. (Hah hah.) Therefore, Brolin is forced to use words like “meshuggeh” and “mazel tov” and to hang a mezuzah on his daughter’s door. (Are you laughing yet?) His daughters think this is crazy because, as they keep insisting, “we’re not Jewish!” (Although technically they are half-Jewish since their father is Jewish, they just weren’t raised Jewish.) However, dad’s religious awakening is played for cheap jokes as just another part of a mid-life crisis – he may be a Jew, but it’s just a phase, he should be acting goy like the rest of the family.
Then, as if the film decides they haven’t embarrassed enough old-time stars, they drag in Christopher Lloyd to play a crazy, new age wedding counselor. One specific scene of Brolin, Seymour and Lloyd snorting and flapping their arms like chickens is enough to make you feel powerfully sad for the state of the careers of these formerly big-deal actors.
The rest of the cast is also mostly marooned with bad dialogue and stupid situations, but I do have to give Jessica Szohr credit for rising above the material and actually creating an interesting character and getting some laughs as Ava’s younger, “slutty, sponging” sister.
The writing, by Caprice Crane and Anouska Chydzik Bryson, literally starts with the term “Once upon a time…” and does not become any less clichéd in the next 90 minutes. Word on the grapevine is that novelist Crane, whom we have interviewed in the past and is a talented writer, was not at all happy with the revisions of her script by her co-screenwriter, who was foisted upon Crane by the films’ producers, and who just happened to be closely related to said producers.
The film also has a first-time director – actor Dermot Mulroney – who has made his share of wedding movies himself (including The Wedding Date and the greatly superior My Best Friend’s Wedding.) He does a workmanlike job as director, though he more than occasionally lets his actors go over the top and also needs to learn more editing tricks than simple shot / counter-shot.
Still, even though it is not at all good, Love, Wedding, Marriage is not quite as bad as everyone has been saying.
So, producers, ready the spot on the cover of the DVD case. You now have your review blurb: “Love, Wedding, Marriage is not quite as bad as everyone has been saying.” Jay S. Jacobs, PopEntertainment.com
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 3, 2011.