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Love, schmactually – ‘Love, Weddings & Other Disasters’

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There are some movies that are compulsively watchable. These are the films from which you simply cannot tear your eyes. Often, this magnetism springs from the exquisite quality of what has been made, a combination of narrative and aesthetic excellence that demands to be experienced. Sometimes, however – not frequently, but every once in a while – that watchability is born of the exact opposite. In these moments, we get a movie that, despite being an abject and utter mess, nevertheless holds your attention.

“Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” is one of those rare watchable shambles, an aptly-titled car-crash of a movie experience that practically demands to be rubbernecked.

Written and directed by Dennis Dugan – best known as a longtime collaborator with Adam Sandler – “Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” is a misguided effort to walk the well-worn path of the intersecting storyline rom-com. The best of those films connect the dots with grace and subtlety, but as you might have already surmised, that’s not what this film does. Instead, we get a series of barely-connected narratives that each play out in their own rambling fashion before a hurried and not-particularly-inspired finale that leaves the viewer wondering what the hell just happened.

We meet Jessie (Maggie Grace, TV’s “Fear the Walking Dead”) as she’s jumping out of an airplane with her reluctant boyfriend, who chooses to break up with her as they’re plunging to Earth. This leads to an unfortunate incident in which she knocks an entire wedding party into the water from their dockside ceremony, leading to viral video fame as the “Wedding Trasher.”

Meanwhile, there’s Lawrence (Jeremy Irons, TV’s “Watchmen”), Boston’s most famous wedding caterer (yes, it’s a thing). He’s devoted utterly to his craft, to the expense of all else – particularly since the passing of his wife some years ago. It’s been so long, in fact, that his friends decide to set him up with Sara (Diane Keaton, “Poms”), who happens to be blind. Yep – a literal blind date, in case you were wondering what kind of movie we’re dealing with here.

From there, we’re on to Captain Ritchie (Andrew Bachelor, “Holidate”), leader of a proudly historically inaccurate duck boat tour. One day, among his many customers, he encounters a beautiful woman with – swear to God – a glass slipper tattooed on her neck. This being the movie that it is, he instantly falls in love with her, only to prove unable to catch her before she disembarks.

So mayoral candidate Robert Barton (Dennis Staroselsky, “Across the Pacific”) is getting married. He’s concerned with his image, but his free-spirited bride-to-be Liz (Caroline Portu, “Blood and Money”) doesn’t care. As such, she decides to hire Jessie as her wedding planner – despite Jessie not actually BEING a wedding planner – because she went to Jessie’s cousin’s wedding and thought Jessie did a good job with it.

Also, Barton’s brother Jimmy (Andy Goldenberg, “The Bellmen”) is a potential embarrassment thanks to his participation in a reality dating show involving being chained to a Russian woman named Svetlana (Melinda Hill, “Quality Problems”) who may not have been entirely truthful during the vetting process. Oh, and we ALSO get a side plot involving a bar band where Mack (Diego Boneta, “Monster Hunter”) and Lenny (Jesse McCartney, TV’s “Young Justice”) are at odds regarding their future direction.

Got all that?

Anyway, these storylines all essentially orbit around the impending mayoral nuptials, though the quality of connections varies wildly (from thin to practically nonexistent). Eventually, it all comes together, more or less, in what proves to be an ending that is almost as ineffective as everything that came before it.

“Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” is indeed aptly titled, because this movie really is a disaster. At best, it’s tough to follow. At worst, it borders on the nonsensical. Multiple times during this movie, I said aloud things like “What is happening?” and “This doesn’t make any sense.” Thank goodness I was watching at home, because otherwise I almost certainly would have been asked to leave.

Imagine “Love, Actually” with a moderately serious head injury and an abject absence of understanding regarding either humor or basic human relationships and you’re in the ballpark.

Here’s the thing, though – I actually greatly enjoyed myself watching this movie. It’s not a good movie. In fact, by any objective measure, it is actively bad. And yet … I found its badness surprisingly watchable. Each moment promised the possibility of yet another clunky line, humorless joke or absurd plot point. For whatever reason, I was in the proper headspace for this one when I saw it – sometimes, you just want to watch the chaos unfold.

For the most part, everyone here lives up (or rather down) to the material. Almost everyone is simply stumbling through the darkness, hoping that it will all be over soon. The exception is the Jeremy Irons/Diane Keaton pairing. They’re genuinely delightful together, with a legitimate chemistry that makes you want to see them lead the way in a better movie. In terms of the film itself, they’re the only ones that live up to the first word of the title, with everyone else falling under the auspices of the last.

“Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” is a magnificent mess, a movie constantly teetering on the edge of utter incomprehensibility. It’s the sort of project that causes you to question the judgment of everyone involved, so utterly does it misfire. But hey – sometimes, you just want to embrace the chaos.

[0.5 out of 5]

Last modified on Monday, 07 December 2020 17:55

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