BUY FROM AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Paramount Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
• Director commentary
• Cast interviews
“It’s not even remotely like Sister, Sister meets Tegan & Sara!”
Andrea Marcellus, Desi Lydic, Cathy DeBuono, Charlie Schlatter
Alex (Marcellus) has just gotten engaged to the man of her dreams, who happens to be half-black and half-Jewish. Fearing her Southern-bred family won’t approve of the match, she tries to keep the existence of her fiance under wraps while visiting the homestead for her little sister’s (Lydic) wedding. Somehow, a little rumor gets started behind Alex’s back, and the whole wedding party becomes convinced that Alex is a lesbian. And, you know what? They’re all right with it.
So, because confrontation is scary, and because the acceptance comes so unexpectedly, Alex tries to keep up pretenses for as long as she can. What’s life like for a straight girl existing in a superstate of in the closet/out of the closet? Filled with double-entendres and situation comedy!
“Kill it! Squish it! Squish it with your prize azaleas!”
I kind of surprised myself with my reaction to Out at the Wedding. LOGO-financed flicks haven’t exactly got the highest quality record, so I was ready for another flat, simply-plotted drama/comedy casting a cursory eye over sexual politics. It’s shouldn’t be a shock for me to say that that’s exactly what I got. The really weird thing was that I enjoyed myself more than a little bit.
I consider that testament to the chemistry between the four leads and their breezy, natural assumption of their characters. I’ve got to give credit there, because I’m entirely at a loss to explain it any other way. Criticism by exclusion! OK, so it’s not as thoughtful/conceited as my normal mode, but at least it’s practical. After every other notable facet of a film has been demonstrated to hold no interest, whatever is left must, therefore… be worth a few hundred words, at least.
I’m trying really hard to be autistic, here.
Here’s what I carefully eliminated as I took notes: the writing, the plotting, the direction, the moral, the supporting cast, the soundtrack, and the role to which sexuality was consigned. That just leaves set dressing and actor chemistry, by my reckoning.
Marcellus, Lydic, DeBuono, and Schlatter gradually form a circle of friendships throughout the film. Their individual lines of dialogue are nothing special. Their one-liners fall flat. Their moments of caricature overshadow the honest moments. But, damn it, they’re very good at being likable. No matter how they’re portrayed, their acting feels genuine, fresh, and alive.
In some part, I suspect this actually depends on the plot being shallow. I’ve claimed in the past to feel distanced by characters without nuance, but I ought to clarify that a film loses me if its story provides reason for wrinkles in character development without allowing the characters to develop those wrinkles. Here, the situation comedy depends entirely on a succession of awkward scenarios, with no room — no desire to promote, even — the rounding-out of the characters. The only analogy that comes to mind is one for which I can not even vouch accuracy: It’s like great sex without emotional connection. Still great, entertaining, but not meaningful in any way.
Oh, sure. I had to get the pan & scan version that cut out the hornet’s nest.
Holy fucking segue! Sex is a backseat issue, here, even though sexuality is the fuse that starts the whole mess counting down toward explosive conflict. The real core of the movie’s moral is about honesty being the best policy. It doesn’t get more complicated with that, even with the added drama of a blossoming lesbian romance. In fact, the script goes out of its way to downplay the importance of the (oddly fronted) homosexuality.
The conflicted presentation of such rubs me the wrong way. I can’t speak to the intentions of the filmmakers, but I’ve settled on considering it a positive thing, showing how natural homosexuality is, how non-threatening. Not that Out at the Wedding is in a position to make a declaration one way or the other. I’m just obsessed with portrayals of gay and genderqueer issues in media.
Concussions will do that to a person.
With that said, I’m kind of upset at how much like a fairy tale the primary lesbian relationship becomes in the third act. The mode of situation comedy is to build and build upon awkward scenarios until a final burst of convenience levels things out again. When everything ties up neatly at the end, there’s a cheapness that infects all the relationships, most notably the newly-sprung lesbian one.
Such is life. Or, rather, such are the lives we see on Friday night network TV. If it weren’t for the compulsively delightful interactions between the four leads, there wouldn’t be much to recommend Out at the Wedding over the latest season of How I Met Your Mother, barring Desi Lydic’s ridiculously adorable face. As it is, the movie fades to black with a celebration of its one strength: a long montage of Alex’s friends and extended family enjoying a breakfast together, laughing, carrying on, and just generally having fun being around one another. It ain’t that bad to sit in on.
The phrase “When in Rome…” makes me think the Romans might
have had trouble holding in the giggle fits.
Both special features are downright charming. Director Lee Friedlander’s commentary is bright and lively, if not exactly packed with relevant information. The cast interviews are a notch up from the standard marketing promos, with each actor actually conveying a genuine affection for the project. I can always dig that.