I’m a sucker for ensemble romantic comedies. They’re a tricky subset of the genre to get right and depends on far more than great chemistry between two actors. If any year needed a pleasant, feel good and funny romantic comedy it’s 2020 and Love, Weddings & Other Disasters is more than up to the challenge.
Like the top tier of the genre, Love… follows an interesting blend of characters. There’s event planner Jessie (Maggie Grace) who went viral after her last breakup. She’s recruited to handle the wedding of mayoral candidate Robert Barton (Dennis Staroselsky) and Liz (Caroline Portu) while dealing with their perfectionist caterer, Lawrence Phillips (Jeremy Irons, Justice League).
Lawrence has grown even more uptight after becoming a widower five years ago and his pals set him up on a literal blind date with the visually impaired Sarah (Diane Keaton). Keaton always excels in these family/rom coms and she provides the film’s firm foundation with her effortless command of the dialogue and warm demeanor. Irons has been typecast in the stern, rigid roles and it was a nice treat seeing him in a more relaxed mode and playing against type.
Guitarist Mack (Diego Boneta, Rock of Ages) is starting to feel neglected when his bandmate (Jesse McCartney) starts reevaluating their collaboration when his new girlfriend arrives on the scene.
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Captain Ritchie (Andrew Bachelor, When We First Met) is a city tour guide who has a fantastic encounter with one of his passengers (Rachel Wirtz), but before they can connect she vanishes leaving behind a glass slipper from her favorite character. Bachelor has a ton of charisma and gives off that same enthusiastic presence that Ryan Reynolds did back when he first made the transition from TV sitcom star to a blockbuster A-lister.
The one storyline that seems like it’s going to be a drag features Robert’s brother, Jimmy (Andy Goldenberg) taking part in a reality dating show with a woman (Melinda Hill) who has plenty of secrets. Midway through, it won me over and pays off with some of the film’s biggest laughs.
Director/Screenwriter Dennis Dugan has frequently collaborated with Adam Sandler. That’s definitely evident from the copious amounts of physical comedy scenes.
While he’s directed most of Sandler’s biggest hits from Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore and Grown Ups, this is Dugan’s first screenplay. As far as debut scripts go, this is impressive. There’s a few rough elements — namely balancing screen time for all of the characters — but it’s a promising debut and unexpectedly sweet.
That’s the biggest shock with the film. Dugan largely avoids crass and overly raunchy jokes while admirably towing the line to be more family friendly. The characters are almost all very good-natured and likable with the biggest jerk getting told off in one of the more memorable moments. Maybe Dugan should write a few more of these…
Love, Weddings & Other Disasters was a terrific surprise and exactly the kind of feel good movie needed to close out this year.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Saban Films