ONCE MORE WITHOUT FEELING
If you saw the 2007 film DEATH AT A FUNERAL, you’ve already seen LOVE WEDDING REPEAT, premiering on Netflix today, April 10. As a matter of fact, if you saw the 2010 remake of DEATH AT A FUNERAL, you will have seen the same film twice. That number is even higher if you caught the French film PLAN DE TABLE of which WEDDING is a remake.
These are all essentially the same film, so If you enjoyed any version on prior viewing, chances are you’ll like this new one as well. If you didn’t, there’s no reason to watch this one either.
The setup is quintessential farce: Hayley is getting married to the man of her dreams. Her brother, Jack, is trying to put things together the best he can. The groom comes from a wealthy Italian family, who do not approve of the whole thing. Jack’s best man is a mess, who is there mostly to impress a powerful film producer. Hayley has also invited both Jack’s vindictive ex-girlfriend as well as his new crush to the festivities. The reasons as to why are irrelevant, as it’s only meant to serve as a bouncing board for awkward encounters. Things are further escalated by the arrival of Marc, Hayley’s devoted ex, who threatens to expose a lurid secret about her to the entire audience.
Like DEATH AT A FUNERAL, this is the kind of film that would unravel immediately if everyone just spoke like normal people. It’s a concession one has to make when watching this genre; you either go along with the sputtering and half-uttered sentences or you don’t. In FUNERAL this mostly worked, because wake’s are generally sombre affairs, where big displays of emotion are usually kept under wraps. But anyone that’s been to a wedding knows that at some point someone is going to act up. It just happens when there’s alcohol and emotions are running high. So watching people run about shushing each other as not to draw attention — while inevitably doing just that — feels forced. Would anyone really notice if they removed a guest? Would anyone care? We’re expected to be wrapped up in the increasingly complex web of lies to save face, but none of the characters feel worthwhile to care about.
There are multiple attempts at witty banter, but they feel like only one side is trying to hold up a conversation. Like half the cast is in on a joke the others remain oblivious to. That cast, including the criminally underused Aisling Bea, is uniformly fine. Yet nobody gets anything as remotely fun to do as in DEATH AT A FUNERAL. There’s no Peter Dinklage to save the day either, even as a game Jack Farthing tries his hardest to liven up the proceedings. The cleverest thing about the film is the title, which riffs on the Tom Cruise film LIVE, DIE, REPEAT.
Sam Clafin does his best playing the long suffering Jack, yet he feels like he’s trapped in another film altogether. That other film, complete with storybook narration from Penny Ryder (doing her best Judi Dench impersonation), is much more traditional fare. Jack loves Dina (Olivia Munn, charming as ever), and she loves him back, but both are unable to say something before it’s too late. Again, there’s no reason for this, but just go with it. They’re separated by time and space, only to meet again under circumstances designed to keep them apart once more. True to fantasy, we witness their courtship over multiple alternate realities, as the day unfolds over and over again until the inevitable happy ending. Saying as much is not a spoiler; this isn’t the kind of film you see expecting anything new.
I suppose making movies about parties is just extraordinarily hard. After all, why would you want to watch other people have fun that you can’t partake in? Nobody wants to be at a funeral, so it’s much funnier to watch things fall apart there. An upper-class wedding where being embarrassed is the worst that can happen just doesn’t have the same weight. And just like at a real wedding, everyone is trying too hard to have fun. As a result nobody is.