Category Archives: Movie Review

Movie Review: American Wedding

The American Pie movies are weird. They ostensibly exist to present a series of convoluted embarrassing moments involving sex, bodily fluids, or ideally, both. But they’re also supremely sappy and sometimes even genuinely heartwarming. Which means the franchise is oddly well-suited to a wedding movie, because weddings are generally a mashup of things that make you cringe and thinks that make you say “awww.”

To my relief, after the opening Rube Goldberg of Shame that leaves Jim’s erection to a restaurant full of people after he proposes, most of the embarrassments are not suffered by the bride and groom. They’re kind of sidelined for much of the movie, actually, probably because happy couples are boring (this is why so many wedding movies are about couples who should not get married breaking up).

The actual plot is a redemption story for Stifler, as he tries to prove worthy of an invite to Jim’s wedding and then win the heart of Michelle’s little sister Cadence (played by January Jones, whom I didn’t recognize until the very end of the movie, which amazes me, because how many pretty blonde actresses with a strangely flat affect can there be in Hollywood? Oh, wait…).

First he puts on a show as being a nice, intellectual, sensitive guy. But pretending to be someone you are not to find love never works. And in an American Pie movie, it also results in you having to eat dog shit.

So eventually Stifler gives up the act, but still wins the girl because she’s so impressed by his herculean efforts to save all the parts of Jim and Michelle’s wedding that he himself screwed up. Finch, who had been initially charmed by Cadence’s beauty and interest in philosophy, very rightly and adorably realizes that the real deal is that she’s easily amused and kind of shallow, so she’s perfect for Stifler.

I watched this movie because KWu suggested it after I ripped up Wedding Crashers, and that comparison makes me feel more confident that I can say I enjoyed American Wedding without shame. One thing I appreciate about the whole American Pie series is that the sex comedy doesn’t come from condemning certain people’s desire as laughable. Other movies would laugh at characters like Michelle or Stifler’s Mom for wanting sex in the first place, because they’re not within a tiny frame of acceptable desirability for young hetero dudes. The American Pie movies don’t have that limited, lazy approach to sex comedy. The jokes come from the awkward and misguided things sexual desire makes us do, not from judging people for having that desire in the first place.

So yeah, this is a movie that can depict its characters accidentally having sex with a grandmother or unknowingly partying is a gay bar and somehow manage to only be minimally offensive in either scene. It’s kind of a wonder to behold.


Movie Review: That Old Feeling

I know how horrible this sounds, but sometimes I am relieved that my parents died before my wedding. I know, that makes me sound like the worst daughter in the world, if not the worst person in the world. I mean, I still feel sadness they won’t be there, and I know I’ll miss them on my wedding day, but I’m not blind to the silver lining here: I don’t have to worry about “Mama drama” destroying my wedding or my dad missing his cue to walk me down the aisle because he’s taking another smoke break.

That Old Feeling reminded me of these shameful feelings by putting on stark display the extent to which parents can ruin a wedding.  Paula Marshall plays the bride, Molly, whose parents Lilly and Dan (played by Bette Midler and Dennis “Is this Moron #1? Put Moron #2 on the phone” Farina) are seeing each other for the first time in 14 years at her wedding. Lilly is a fading film star who’s popular in the tabloids because her un-ph0togenic left side and her fluctuating weight are a paparazzo’s goldmine.  Dan is a hack novelist. They’ve both re-married in the interim, Lilly to a self-help guru [played by the guy from Sledge Hammer!! (And yes, that double exclamation point with the italics change brings me joy!)] and Dan to a woman who is given little characterization beyond “Ice Queen.”

Lilly and Dan make it through the ceremony and a solid two minutes of the reception keeping their aggression all passive, but it isn’t long before they bust out in a screaming fight that is actually quite hilarious (“You were faithful like a Kennedy was faithful!” “I turned down a Beatle for you!”)  Molly kicks them outside to cool off, and given the title of the film it really isn’t a surprise when “cooling off” is accomplished by humping:

Much like Ron and Tammy Swanson, once they’ve knocked pelvises again Lilly and Dan are 100% googedy in love despite more than a decade of rage and resentment. They run off together. Molly’s step parents and new husband demand she fix this mess she allegedly caused by having the gall to throw a wedding and invite both her parents. [Her husband cares because it threatens his “family values” platform for his congressional campaign, which I think is meant to the be the first sign that he’s a no goodnik, which is just so adorably Hollywood, and I say that as a staunch Democrat.]

Molly teams up with her wedding photographer/mother-stalking paparazzo Joey Donna, who I instantly recognized as Fabrizio from Titanic becuase I was thirteen in 1997 (lest you be misled by my mid-eighties references from earlier in this post).  Because Lilly’s bad left side is Joey’s bread and butter, he knows how to find her.

Slapstick ensues. Molly and Joey are locked into a hotel room together. You know what that means in a romantic comedy, right?  So Molly’s marriage lasts about as long as most of the tv shows with Paula Marshall (ZING!). Don’t worry, the groom slept with her stepmother at some point in the movie just so we don’t feel sorry for him.

This is usually the part of the review where I start complaining about how selfish and horrible all these people are, but you know what? This time they’re all off the hook. For some reason I genuinely enjoyed this movie and didn’t get too caught up in concerns like “what kind of mother sees her daughter macking on a dude who is not her spouse 24 hours after the wedding and gets a kick out the intrigue without worrying about anyone’s feelings?!”  Maybe I was less upset because even though the marriage ends up annulled, at least the wedding still happens in this one? Maybe I was just in a really good mood, the kind of good mood that lets me look on the bright side of my parents dying when I was 21?  Or maybe That Old Feeling is just a surprisingly charming movie.

Movie Review: Wedding Crashers

True story: a group of dudes crashed my finlaws’ wedding. Before they could even make it to the bar, they got hit with the “who are you?” confrontation. By the groom. They were escorted out a few seconds later.  The moral: crashing weddings is not only wrong, it is stupid.

The movie Wedding Crashers is both wrong AND stupid, and not just about the advisability of sneaking in uninvited to weddings. The premise of crashing weddings as sport pisses me off not only because it glorifies lying and stealing, but because most of the characters’ motivation for crashing is that women at weddings are “so aroused by the thought of marriage that they’ll throw their inhibitions to the wind.” They’re crashing weddings because it is an easy way to get laid. Yes, it’s much easier to get a woman into bed by doing extensive research, crafting a false persona, ingratiating oneself to a large group of strangers at a private event, and spouting lies about one’s military service than it is to, I dunno, go on freakin’ Craigslist and find out who else in the city is horny that night. Or god forbid, to actually bother to date.

Insisting that casual sexual encounters with women requires detailed subterfuge is so dehumanizing and sad. You know what else is dehumanizing and sad? Making the subject of women’s sexuality out to be inherently comedic. See the slapsticky subplot about Isla Fisher’s Gloria, a character saddled with stereotypes from both sides of the virgin/whore dichotomy. She also rapes Vince Vaughn’s character, which is played for laughs. Because what was missing from all the other wedding comedies out there? Rape! Vince Vaughn even becomes the Laura to her Luke and marries her after he finds out she wasn’t a virgin after all (Verdict: prude chicks are worse than rapists). She was lying about being a virgin, because sexually aggressive women are unstable. Normal chicks will only accept sexual advances, not make them, and only after being sufficiently hoodwinked.

Also hilarious: Jane Seymour making sexual advances to Owen Wilson. Those cougars! They think they could possibly be attractive even though they are old! That’s really funny, right? Not as funny as the rapping granny having sexual fantasies about FDR and calling Eleanor Roosevelt a “rug muncher” at the dinner table.

Which reminds me: homosexuality is also inherently comedic, and gay people are as socially inappropriate as sexually-forward women. So when Gloria’s little brother climbs into bed with Vince Vaughn, who is still tied up from being raped, he doesn’t, you know, acknowledge the ropes, and he certainly doesn’t take an explicit denial of consent at face value. It would be a lot funnier if he kept on hitting on Vince and then hid in a closet when his dad barged in. Yes! Literally! Chucklez!

So, yeah, this movie makes me want to barf, and I guess it is because I’m a humorless feminist who can’t enjoy anything. It was a huge hit among fun-loving American movie goers, and I can see why people would like it. Wedding Crashers is funny despite the despicable worldview that directs it to most of its comedy. If I watched it under the influence of enough cold medicine (or internalized misogyny) such that my troublesome feminist brain didn’t get in the way, I’d probably enthusiastically recommend it.

But, as it stands, this movie makes me want to retire from  blogging about wedding movies and/or humanity.

Movie Review: My First Wedding

I don’t believe in hell, but My First Wedding makes me wish I did.  Because its protagonist, Nick, needs to go to hell.

My terrible habit of watching wedding movies has exposed me to a lot of creeps, selfish drama-mongers, and irrational weirdos.  It’s exposed me to bizarre deception schemes and elaborate lies.  But I’ve never seen a character so damnable as Nick.

Nick is a carpenter refurbishing a church.  He’s working on the confessional booth when a young woman named Vanessa comes in. He puts in about ten seconds effort trying to stop Vanessa from confessing to a civilian, but as soon as he realizes her confession is about sex, he instead goads her to say more about her lust to get his rocks off.

Vanessa is set to be married in three days. Her fiancé André is Catholic, and is waiting for marriage to have sex. Vanessa is not Catholic, and the pressure of abstaining is getting to her.  Like, really getting to her.  Simple eye contact with a male stranger is enough to incapacitate her with lust.

[This is Rachel Leigh Cook’s “incapacitated by lust” face.  She’s very cute, and I want her to have a better career, but she’s no Meryl Streep.]

Nick, now “Father Nick,” agrees to provide one-on-one spiritual counseling to help Vanessa with her carnal urges. Of course, he wants to help her INDULGE in those carnal urges. WITH HIM. But he is dressed as a priest, and priests are CELIBATE, so you can kind of forgive Vanessa for not catching on to his scheme.

I mean, until he allows her to drunkenly snuggle with him on the couch while he wears a t-shirt that reads “Let’s Get Jiggy.” This should raise suspicions that he might not be a priest.  It might also be suspicious that he DOES get jiggy.  With her. By which I mean he has sexual intercourse with her. The night before her wedding.

Posing as a priest to seduce an engaged woman is pretty evil, but Nick doesn’t stop there. His Plan B is sending his sister to seduce André. Yes, André the principled virgin.  It’s not enough to break up André’s planned marriage, he also needs to make Andre think he’s going to hell.  While using his own sister as a pawn in his creepy sex plot.  Nick is a complete disgrace of a human being.  Nick makes Charlie Sheen look like a really nice and stable person.

He’s so awful that he also performs a sham wedding for Vanessa and André when all of his seduction plans aren’t enough to make them break up.  And then crashes their honeymoon and feigns demonic possession to stop them from consummating the marriage.  Not because they never got married, mind you, but because he’s in love with Vanessa.  Allegedly.  Really, I think he’s in love with elaborate lies. That explains his behavior much better.

When Vanessa and André finally realize that Nick isn’t a priest, they head to a church for a proper marriage.  Which Nick crashes, begging Vanessa to choose him. Because this is a wedding movie, that works. But this is the most unbelievable of all the many, many, many “marry me instead” endings I’ve suffered through.  I would have preferred the “hell is invented just for Nick” ending, but that might have been too dark for mainstream audiences.

Movie Review: Prelude to a Kiss

Because they are adorable, Collin’s parents send us a care package for every holiday, full of candy and seasonal tchotchkes and and usually a movie.  Our Valentine’s Day package came this weekend, with a movie that has a wedding in it!  I hope Viki did that on purpose.

I also hope that Viki is hip enough to have purposefully sent me not only a wedding movie, but a truly insane wedding movie.

The first 40 minutes of Prelude to a Kiss are pretty standard romance fare covering the meet cute to the wedding.  Alec Baldwin’s Peter is a straight-laced publisher of scientific microfiche. Meg Ryan’s Rita is a free-spirit, which you can tell because she is sexually forward, wears berets, never sleeps, and interrupts conversations so she can jump up and pull leaves off of trees.  You know, like a four-year-old might.  She’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the highest order.


You can tell because she whips her hair.


And then a creepy old man crashes their wedding.  Meg Ryan, in true MPDG fashion, doesn’t mind that he’s crashing and offers him her blessings and a kiss.  A kiss with, I swear I am not making this up, SWAPS THEIR CONSCIOUSNESSES.

It’s like they were shooting the scenes chronologically, but the director realized halfway through that no one cares about how two annoying people met and fell in love and decided to make an entirely different movie.  Or maybe the producer read a piece in Reader’s Digest about the Capgras delusion, ran onto set screaming, “Cut! CUT!  THIS is the movie we’re gonna make!” [Wikipedia says it is an adaptation of a stage play, so I guess that isn’t really true, but I like my lie better.]

No one notices that Rita is acting like a creepy old man for most of her wedding, because Manic Pixie Dream Girls are so unpredictable!  It takes Peter about half of his honeymoon to sort it out.  The smoking gun is that “Rita” can’t recite the recipe for a Long Island Ice Tea, even though she works as a bartender.  [I mean, give her a break! That’s a long and complicated drink recipe.]

When they return from the honeymoon, “Rita” acts much more herself, but Peter cries and accuses her of having studied up by reading Rita’s journals.  He sounds mentally ill, so Rita’s dad suggests he get professional help.  Rita’s mom, a little more calm about her son-in-law’s symptoms of psychosis, tells Peter that he’s just realizing his wife is a real woman and not a Manic Pixie.

Meanwhile, Peter and the One True Rita, trapped inside the Creepy Old Dude’s body, reunite at the bar where Rita used to work.  Peter knows it is his wife inside that Creepy Old Dude because she orders a Dewar’s, and Rita is the only person in the world who orders cheap scotch by calling the brand.  Peter quizzes her about the stuff they talked about during the boring beginning of the movie and she passes his test.

So Old Man Rita and Peter try to live their lives together, but Peter respectfully declines to have sex with an old man.  [Other than this, the movie is oddly silent on gender and sexuality, which is better than the transphobia-for-laughs you might expect from a movie with this plot, but still something of a waste of potential.]   I am surprised they don’t at least cuddle, though. Maybe that doesn’t come up because Rita doesn’t sleep, even when in a different body? I can’t think about this too hard or I will never sleep again myself.

This is where the serious conversations about love, identity, and mortality kick in.  [If I didn’t know by now this was originally a stage play, I would have guessed.]  So Prelude to a Kiss has gone from being a boring romance to being a boring and pretentious metaphysical meditation.  Not an improvement!

Peter and Old Man Rita eventually corner “Rita” and threaten her with a carving knife until she kisses the old man again.  Because they’ve seen movies before and assume that is how they’ll switch back.  But that doesn’t work.  Instead Rita and the Old Man have to come to some kind of simultaneous inner peace about themselves to get back in their original bodies.

The Old Man feels better because he’s experienced the mystical life-creating wonder of womanhood or somesuch bullshit, and it made him realize he doesn’t really want to live forever.   Rita feels better because she doesn’t have lung cancer and cirrhosis anymore.  Peter feels better because the person he loves is back in a body he wants to bone.   I feel better now that this movie is over.

Movie Review: In & Out

In & Out is only fourteen years old, but it feels like a relic from a different era. The film features cassette tapes, rotary phones, and the firm belief that appreciation of Barbara Streisand appreciation is tightly correlated with homosexuality.

The premise is that a young Hollywood actor wins an Academy Award for playing a gay character, and in his acceptance speech he thanks his high school English teacher Howard Brackett, who taught him to love theater. “And he’s gay.”

This is news to the English teacher, and the woman he’s set to marry in five days:

Everyone in the small Indiana community promptly freaks out, either over the employment of a possibly-gay dude at a public high school, or the imminent wedding of a possibly-gay dude to a ladyperson.  Or, in the case of the possibly-gay dude in question, over his possible-gayness.

Perplexingly, this seems to be the first time that the possibility of Howard being gay has occurred to anyone, including Howard.  But it adds up to them once they consider the evidence: likes poetry and Barbara Streisand, kind of prissy, smart, well-dressed, really clean, drama club, rides a bicycle, has been engaged three years without boffing his fiancée.  I’m really only moved by the last one, but I’m not in the movie.

Meanwhile, Tom Selleck  (or what is left of Tom Selleck without the mustache) leads an invading media circus who pepper Howard with questions like, “What do you think about gays in the space program?” and “Do you know Ellen?”  Mustache-Free Tom Selleck comes out to Howard, and then kisses him to help him embrace his sexuality.  This strikes me as not too far off from when people say that lesbians just need a good dicking.

Regardless: it works.  Howard leaves poor Emily at the altar after saying “I’m gay” instead of “I do.”  Joan Cusack gets her Oscar clip by challenging him with, “was there, oh, ANY OTHER TIME YOU MIGHT HAVE TOLD ME THIS?”

This movie earned Joan Cusack her second Oscar nomination for essentially playing herself. That’s not a dig.  I’m reminded of dialogue from early in the film:  “I hope that nice Sally Field wins.” “But she’s not nominated, dear.” “Even so!” That’s how I feel about Joan Cusack. She’s so funny she should win an Oscar for putting on pants in the morning.

Anyway, the movie kind of falls apart at this point.  There’s the worst wanna-Capra ending since the Miracle on 34th Street remake, and a little coda where Howard’s parents hopefully make use of his wedding deposits by renewing their vows.  But nothing about how Howard’s life may or may not change now that he’s finally realized he’s gay well into his adult life.

Honestly, I think In & Out would be more interesting if Howard were straight, fighting to be who he really is: a guy who loves Shakespeare and tucked in shirts and having sex with women.  As it stands, because the movie is so PG-13-for-language sexless, it comes across as though Howard’s sexuality really is determined by his fondness for Barbara Streisand.  The whole thing comes across as incredibly gender normative, especially for a movie that I think is patting itself on the back for championing The Gays.  Or maybe a straight Howard would have felt like a cop-out. It’s impossible to know what might have been.

So I’ll conclude by asking you to help me sort out another mystery:

Movie Review: Julie & Julia

“What do you think a blog is? It’s just ‘me me me’ day after day!”

Julie & Julia is not a wedding movie. It has a wedding in it, so it gets in on a technicality. But it is a movie about two things very relevant to HitchDied: blogging, and marriage.

To borrow Sady Doyle’s expression, Julie & Julia illustrates “the reedeming power of Blog.”  Look, my blog is not going to get me a book deal, I’ll never be featured in the New York Times, no Oscar-nominated actress will ever be portraying me on screen. But, without getting too hokey on you, blogging has changed my life.   I love my blog! I want to draw little hearts around it with an Internet pen.   So it’s great to see a movie address the “redeeming power of Blog,” even though it isn’t the most cinematic of subjects.  And  the “Julie” part of Julie & Julia does a fantastic job of depicting how a blog can help not only with getting through a project (be it taking on a cookbook’s worth of recipes or throwing a wedding) but with getting through LIFE.

It also shines a light on the peculiar way blogs and relationships can interact.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever had your partner say, “DO NOT write about this in your blog!”  I hope me and Movie Julie aren’t the only ones.

Because the second subject in Julie & Julia I want to address is its depiction of the title characters’ marriages.  Julia Child and her husband Paul, played by Greatest Living Actress Meryl Streep and No Minor Talent Stanley Tucci, are played as having the greatest marriage anyone could hope for.  They seem to truly enjoy each other, which is a pleasure to watch. And they support each other in chasing their dreams, even when their careers hit stumbling blocks.

Sadly, in my watching of the movie, Julie and her husband Eric’s relationship stands in stark contrast to Julia and Paul’s.  I am not sure how much my interpretation is influenced by the outside knowledge that the couple is no longer married [EDIT: as it turns out, they might still be married? I don’t really know, and it’s probably not my business, memoir about infidelity aside].  But where Paul is steadfast in his support for Julia’s, Eric is all over the place.  He suggested blogging to Julie, and is shown helping her with various recipes (most importantly the “murder of an innocent crustacean” required by lobster thermidor), and for her birthday buys her a string of pearls so she can further emulate her idol. But then there are the scenes where he resents the attention she devotes to blogging, and judges her self-importance regarding her readership, and heatedly tells her he can’t wait for her project to end and wishes he’d never suggested it.  By film’s end he’s swung back to supportive about the blog, talking Julie through a meltdown over Julia Child’s negative response to her blog.  But I see boredom etched on his face.  Maybe the character is just inconsistently written and acted.  But knowing that real-world Julie and Eric divorce [EDIT: cheat on each other] made it hard not to look for cracks in the relationship on film. Especially when it is sharing a movie with the best marriage ever:

All right, on to the wedding.  It’s only a brief scene, but it still looks like a pretty awesome wedding:

Wow.  I know it is a fictionalized depiction of a wedding that happened decades ago, but MAN I wish I could go to that wedding.  It looks like an absolute blast.


Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally…

One Christmas Night my sister and I were trying to find something to watch other than the 20th hour of A Christmas Story, and we both simultaneously suggested watching When Harry Met Sally… which maybe wouldn’t be that weird considering my sister and I have the psychic connection all good sisters have, if When Harry Met Sally… [yes, I am going to type in that ellipsis every single time. Buckle up.]  were a Christmas movie.

But then Becky argued that it is a Christmas movie, because of the two scenes where Sally lugs a Christmas tree away from a lot: once, with Harry’s help, and once without it:

Neither of those scenes have dialogue.  It’s really just a visual joke and illustration of the Harry-shaped hole in Sally’s life.  But to Becky, it’s enough to make it a Christmas movie, and that’s enough for me too.

Similarly, two nights before my sister’s wedding we also decided to watch this movie.  That is much less of a stretch: in addition to there being a pivotal wedding scene, the whole movie is about the road to marriage.

So, Christmas movie, check.  Wedding movie, check.  New Years movie? Obviously.  Great background noise for a game night? Can you say “baby fish mouth”?   Appropriate assignment for a twelfth grade health class? According to my high school, edu-lutely!.  When Harry Met Sally…: a movie for all seasons.

But here I am only going to cover the wedding, because I’ve got siblings to be celebrating the holidays playing Kinect with.

So here is Marie and Jess’ wedding:

You may recognize this shot because it is in every wedding movie.  If you, like me, watch far too many wedding movies, when confronted with this shot your eyes seek out the nuances in the frame.  Here: that table of champagne behind the guests at the ceremony.  That’s one of my unlimited-budget wedding fantasies: a celebratory drink for the whole crowd immediately post-ceremony.  I’ve been to two weddings that had that and loved it both times.  But we’ve only got one “free” round of champagne in our contract, and I’m going to use it during the toasting portion of the reception.

This wedding is set around the holidays, and I think the dark green color works well for that scenario.  I might have used a piece of holly in the boutonniere instead of ivy, but that might be too on-the-nose.  I also think that Sally’s dress holds up pretty well from 1989.  It is hard to imagine a grown woman wearing it, but very easy to imagine an adorable four-year-old wearing that style to Christmas Dinner and Grandmama’s house.  I think that is high praise for a 1980’s bridesmaid dress.

The reason Harry and Sally look so miserable in the above shot is they’ve just been screaming at each other in the kitchen.  My favorite thing about that scene is that the catering staff barely notices them, even though they are screaming at each other.  I suspect that sort of thing happens at weddings all the time.

If I hadn’t already contracted with my venue, I would totally ask candidates “How does your kitchen staff handle guest drama spilling over into employee-only areas?”  Because I’m gonna lay 3:2 odds on that being relevant to my wedding day.

Harry and Sally reconcile after the above tiff, thankfully, and in the closing couch interview mention that they got married three months after finally getting together.  How could someone as anal as Sally Albright plan a wedding in THREE MONTHS?   She has a sauce ON THE SIDE for her wedding cake, but she can handle planning this sauce-on-the-side wedding in NINETY DAYS.  I need over a year.  What does it say about me that I couldn’t plan a wedding in three months and SALLY can?  [I don’t care that Sally is fictional.  It still freaks me out.]


Movie Review: Four Weddings and a Funeral

I haven’t reviewed a wedding movie in a while, so I decided to pop in an old favorite.  And I’ve had British weddings on the brain for some reason lately.

And then a terrible thing happened: I didn’t like Four Weddings and a Funeral this time around.  I remembered it so fondly, but despite charming dialogue and performances, it has all the same problems every other wedding movie I watch has: selfish jerks for romantic leads, a wedding that is so clearly doomed there never should have been an engagementf, all the supporting characters marrying off before the credits (here, in a photo montage).

But I don’t want to write five hundred words about what made me dislike Four Weddings and a Funeral. I want to like Four Weddings and a Funeral! I cannot allow myself to be THIS cynical, or I may have to swear off RomComs entirely, and I am more prepared to eliminate gluten from my diet than I am to remove all the 90-minute forays into imaginary couples’ lives from my Netflix queue.

So, in the interest of pretending I never got so grumpy and joyless as to dislike one of the most beloved wedding movies ever, I will be devoting this post to The Five Greatest Hats in Four Weddings and a Funeral.


Some enchanted afternoon, you may see a stranger across a crowded room. It will be easier to do this if she is wearing a hat the size of a golf umbrella.


Fiona’s floppy pink hat must settle for second place, just like Fiona herself.


Not the white hat in the foreground, which is cute and everything but nothing special, but the blue and white straw hat on the woman in the left of the frame, which distracted me all through Wedding #2, even before I decided to use this review structure.


The random dudes in top hats. You know why Americans think Brits are fuddy duddies? Because in their movies, the extras sometimes have top hats on for no apparent reason.


There are many hats in this film that have one large flower on them. This woman is saying with her hat, “Ladies, sometimes more is more.”

Dishonorable Mention

Scarlett, I realize you are grieving, and I know it can be hard to pull a look together in between hugs and bouts of crying. But this knit patchwork monstrosity would make your friend glad he didn’t live to see someone wear THAT to his funeral.

Honorable Mention

You do, however, deserve some propers for your own wedding headgear.

Movie Review: The Best Man

The Best Man is unlike most of the wedding movies I watch in that it is not about white people, but it is like all the wedding movies I watch in that all of the characters are rich and extremely successful. It is unlike most of the wedding movies I watch in that the characters have dimensions and believable flaws, but like most of the wedding movies I watch in that those flaws result in extremely stupid behavior that made me shout, “What are you DOING?!” at the TV. It is unlike most of the wedding movies I watch in that I really enjoyed it, but it is like most of the wedding movies I watch in that I haaaaated it. Wait, what? Let’s just say it’s uneven. Or, more specifically, that it has a really awful last five minutes that almost ruin the entire movie for me.

Taye Diggs plays Harper Stewart, the eponymous best man to Lance, the NFL-player groom, and Mia, Lance’s beautiful college girlfriend who has put up with years of Lance’s indiscretions, doesn’t want a job, is an excellent cook, and, as far as Lance knows, has never been with another man. You can basically erase her face and write in “Fantasy Woman” where her mouth would be. She doesn’t need her mouth, she only gets like two lines of dialogue.

The release of Harper’s first novel, Unfinished Business, selected for Oprah’s book club, is fortuitously timed with the reunion of this gang of college buddies at Lance and Mia’s wedding. The gang of college buddies who are all obviously source material for the characters in Harper’s book. Ruh roh.

Too bad for Harper that he’s one of those douches who does things that obviously cause trouble, like, say, airing his dirty laundry in a “novel,” but then when he’s called on it says, “Why do you always have to go making drama?” Say that in a mirror, buddy. Because aside form the questionable life choice of writing a book about his secrets and his friends’ secrets, Harper also, you know, did all the stuff that was a secret before he wrote a book about it. Like, you guessed it: sleep with Mia when she was first dating Lance.

But his friends, including the groom, have only just started the book, when Harper’s literary counterpart is all about the character Kendall, based on Nia Long’s Jordan. Robin, Harper’s girlfriend he doesn’t love, is super jealous of Harper’s, ahem, unfinished business with Jordan. Harper tells her to stop making drama. Then he makes a date to sleep with Jordan the night before Robin flies in for the wedding. Douche.

But Harper is not just an irredeemable douche, which is why I really liked the first 115 minutes of this movie.  He’s clearly a good friend.  He even does what a sane person would do and tries to tell Lance about his fling with Mia before Lance gets to that part of the book, and only fails because of plot contrivance.  Jordan also felt like a well-rounded, believable character.  I don’t approve of her asking Harper for sex when she knows he has a girlfriend, but I understood why she did it (“all work and no play make Jordan a horny nutball.”).  Lance is also interesting.  He wants to get married because he believes the sacred institution will give him the strength to be faithful for once.  The other guys in the wedding party are even given a little bit of dimension (the other female characters, not so much).  And there is great acting all around.

When the shit hits the fan regarding Harper’s secret about Mia, I found myself uncertain if the wedding would happen, and genuinely interested to see if it did.  That’s a rarity for this kind of movie.

So why did I also haaaate this movie?  Well, just look:

That’s Harper and Robin.  Robin, this dude just wrote a book about not one but TWO chicks he’s hung up on who are not you.  And he just tried to cheat on you with one of those two chicks like, sixteen hours ago.  He won’t even say “I love you” on the phone to you.  Robin, RUN!  Don’t say, “Yeah, whatever man” [I swear she says exactly that] and marry him.  I don’t care how much money an Oprah endorsement brings in!  RUN FOR THE HILLS.

Also, the secondary characters all pair off, which I generally find obnoxious.  But it gets even worse: Harold Perrineau gets a stripper from the bachelor party, who makes an exception from her normal policy of not mixing business and pleasure because he throws the right quotation at her.  Gag.  Baby Wipes-enthusiast Terrence Howard gets the shrew Harold Perrineau just dumped, after publicly humiliating her during the normally icky garter portion of the evening.  Vom.  And Jordan, the career woman who asks for sex when she wants it? Stays celibate throughout the film.  Siiiiigh.

In summary, 90% of The Best Man is about complicated people dealing with a complicated situation in believable ways.  10% is completely unsuccessful schmaltz that made me throw laundry at the screen.  If you can handle a mixed bag, or if you can turn it off before you get to the terrible final scene, I still recommend the movie.