To describe "Love, Wedding, Marriage" as sitcommy would be an insult to sitcoms, which can and do succeed in inspiring genuine laughter. This is more like a tedious slog through a series of strained moments with characters who never even come close to resembling actual human beings.
As the veteran of many a romantic comedy himself, including "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "The Wedding Date," Dermot Mulroney should know better than to wallow in trite conventions; instead, he runs right toward them and piles them on in making his directing debut.
If you like drunken karaoke, climactic revelations and mad dashes to say some last-minute I-love-yous, then this is the movie for you. It even has the word "wedding" in the title, just to add one more cliché.
Mandy Moore, who continues to make terrible movie choices, stars here as Ava, a marriage counselor who's just tied the knot herself (to wooden, frequently shirtless "Twilight" hunk Kellan Lutz). But then her parents (James Brolin and Jane Seymour) announce that they're planning to divorce just as they're about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Like a spoiled little girl who's gotten what she wants her whole life — rather than a grown-up and a professional who deals with marital rifts for a living — Ava makes it her mission to fix her parents' relationship. She does this at the expense of her own blossoming marriage; we know this because her husband, Charlie, constantly complains about the fact that she's too busy and distracted for them to have sex. But things were looking rocky from the start anyway: Charlie, it turns out, is incapable of changing the toilet paper roll in the bathroom.
Men! Will they ever learn?
But Ava's parents seem to be enjoying some time apart, which is evident by their wacky, mid-life expressions of freedom. Mom tries speed-dating (alongside Ava's wise-cracking younger sister, played by Jessica Szhor); Dad explores Judaism, which consists of hanging a mezuzah on Ava's front doorway and dropping Yiddish words into his speech.
Oy vey, indeed.
Meanwhile, Charlie brings some of his own zaniness in the form of the obligatory shallow, skirt-chasing best friend (Michael Weston).
Moore pouts and preens and pratfalls her way through the increasingly hysterical antics that constitute the script from Anouska Chydzik Bryson and Caprice Crane. Ava is supposed to be the voice of reason, but makes a false 911 call suggesting her father has tried to kill himself, just to get her mom to fall for him all over again. And it works! Ha ha!
The joke's on us for doubting the lovability of her desperate craftiness.
"Love, Wedding, Marriage," an IFC Films release, is rated PG-13 for sexual material and language. Running time: 90 minutes. Zero stars out of four.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:
G — General audiences. All ages admitted.
PG — Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 — Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.
R — Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 — No one under 17 admitted.
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