Genre: Romantic Comedy
“The bride or groom?”[pause]
“Bride or groom?”
“It should be perfectly obvious that I’m neither. Great God!”
I can’t count the number of times I’ve caught bits and pieces of this film on TV over the years but I honestly don’t think I’d ever seen the whole thing until fairly recently. And I’d certainly never seen the NSFUSTV cut. But doing these reviews has made me much more adventurous so I decided to give the DVD a whirl. And I ended up liking it so much it’s now part of my collection. Who could have known?
Perpetually late Charles (Hugh Grant) and his circle of friends spend most of their weekends going to the weddings of friends. At one, he meets an American named Carrie (Andie McDowell) and it’s love at first sight – for him. They meet/hook up again at another wedding where she introduces him to her new fiance. Later she takes him bridal dress shopping and he confesses he loves her but she won’t call off her wedding. Her wedding is followed by an awful event leading to the funeral and it’s here that Charles decides to give up on holding out for true love and marry an old friend. But when a now maritaly separated Carrie shows up at Charles’ ceremony, will he go through with it or give true love one more shot?
After watching the whole movie, I can say for certain why I thought I didn’t like it. Andie McDowell drives me nuts in it. I just wanted to smack her coyly, flirty face with her whiney “Hiiiiiii…..” I get that the director wanted to make her a sexually secure woman who has no qualms sleeping with whomever she wants – as evidenced by her actions and her countdown of past lovers – but McDowell’s shoulder hunching, head tilting, smirking performance doesn’t do it for me. She does finally shape up during her own wedding only to go all coy again when she appears at Charles’ wedding. It makes me feel a bit sorry for Charles to have finally landed her in the end.
Alright, that’s my main problem with the film so on to the massive amounts of stuff I do like.
Hugh Grant does his usual stammering Englishman shtick but he does it so well here and is basically so harmless and cute that I could eat him up with a spoon and the scrape the bowl. Charlotte Coleman – and isn’t it awful how early she died? – is hilarious and so cute as Scarlett who has the best – or is it the worst? – wedding outfit of the whole film. Kristin Scott Thomas does a perfectly brittle upperclass Fi while James Fleet is her goofy brother Tom with his perpetual optimism and English version of “aw shucks.” Got to love his ultimate wedding portrait with the dog in it. As usual I love to listen to John Hannah though I’m eternally grateful for subtitles so I know exactly what he’s saying. But the one I love best here is Simon Callow as Gareth of the garish waistcoats and unique dancing style. His mugging during the first wedding is hysterical.
I flip flop back and forth as to which ceremony I enjoy and laugh at the most but here are my highlights.
1st – the forgotten rings and their substitutes, the frightful folk singers, and the sheep.
2nd – the fluffed wedding service, the table of old girlfriends, and getting stuck in the room with the bride and groom.
3rd – It’s Brigadoon!, torturing Americans, and Carrie’s actually quite funny speech.
Funeral – duck a la banana, Matthew’s memorial speech, and the natural looking mourners.
4th – the alarm clock joke, David’s heartfelt, helpful speech leading to, the knockout punch.
I also love Carrie’s wedding dress (so un-meringue- y) though the setting of the last wedding would make me want to schedule mine there. And wouldn’t it be fun to have Father Gerald (Rowan Atkinson) officiating at your ceremony? It would certainly be memorable. Who on earth would want or buy that pigmy statue? And doesn’t Charles have some interesting (ahem) former girlfriends? I also think this is an almost perfect blend of humor and drama. Without the funeral, it would have ended up being too sugary and sweet. The relationship between the friends and siblings also carries the whole – they can be quick to tease and prank but are also there for each other through thick and thin.
It’s a lighthearted bit of froth mixed with a tinge of grief. It’s a perpetually sunny summer of weddings with only one overcast funeral day. I find it funny, witty and refreshing and laugh almost all the way through most of it each time I watch it. The ensemble acting works wonderfully with everyone playing off each other and there’s chemistry galore between them. But there’s also some maturation going on here as well. For the tiny budget they had to work with, the makers of “Four Weddings” managed to make a romcom that still shines almost twenty years later.