Our Family Wedding

Movie Information

The Story: Feuding fathers threaten to undermine the wedding of their children. The Lowdown: There is simply no excuse for the movie's existence.
Score:

Genre: Culture-Clash Romantic Comedy
Director: Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar)
Starring: Forest Whitaker, America Ferrera, Carlos Mencia, Regina King, Lance Gross, Diana-Maria Riva
Rated: PG-13

While the rest of the viewers in the rather sparsely populated theater busied themselves with texting on their cell phones, I spent most of the running time of Our Family Wedding wondering how this thing got made in the first place.

Consider the series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Someone had to come up with the idea. Well, since that honor falls to Wayne Conley, who is credited for both the story and co-writing the screenplay, and whose only other screenplay credit is the abominable King’s Ransom (2005), that may be explicable. Then someone had to agree to help Conley turn it into a screenplay. This was Malcolm Spellman, who appears to have previously written a video game. (He and Mr. Conley are currently embroiled in writing Johnson Family Vacation 2. This says much.) After this, others apparently concluded the results could and should be turned into a movie. OK, I can see why director Rick Famuyiwa jumped at the project, since he hadn’t landed a directing job in about eight years. Perhaps he thought he could bring something to the screenplay (possibly the goat that stars in the movie?), though a match would have been his wisest choice. Then a lot of folks—apparently channeling Bela Lugosi for career-move tips—signed on to appear in the film. At no point did anyone stop and say, “Look, this thing is as old as the hills, and it hasn’t improved with time. It’s not funny. It’s not romantic. And it generally smells of herring.”? Apparently, no one did, which is actually pretty remarkable—in an “end of civilization as we know it” manner. The results are like a lobotomized Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)—with a horny goat thrown in.

There is nothing to recommend this movie—unless you enjoy counting clichés. In that eventuality, you’ll find much to keep you busy. They’re all here and they’re all staged for maximum unbelievability. Everything about this movie—from the preposterously upscale DJ dad (Forest Whitaker) and the improbably well-heeled towing-tycoon papa (Carlos Mencia)—is utterly ungrounded in any kind of reality. People fight for no reason, except that the script says they do. The plot—involving embattled dads who don’t want their children (America Ferrera and Lance Gross) to marry—exists solely because Miguel Ramirez (Mencia) tows Brad Boyd’s (Whitaker) Jag for illegal parking, resulting in Brad inexplicably having to rent a Smart car (the movies think Smart cars are inherently funny). That’s it and I’m not buying it—or anything else offered up here right through the requisite gloomy penultimate reel and the happy-ever-aftering codswallop that lies in its wake.

The movie plays unsuccessfully for laughs and a culture-clash premise it can’t seem to locate, but wants us to accept is there because the film says so. It stages a softball game that makes no sense (in what version of the game are the pitcher and the batter on the same team?). Plus, since the scene’s big joke is in the trailer, the game has even less point by the time you sit through it in the movie. People throw wedding cake at each other in desperate bids for laughs. Charlie Murphy shows up from time to time to add his particular brand of obnoxiousness. And then there’s the damned goat that eats Forest Whitaker’s Viagra. (Once again, you’ve seen the whole joke in the trailer, where it actually plays better by being more tightly edited.) Like everything else in the movie, the episode happens and is quickly dropped and forgotten, along with all the property damage it entailed (magically fixed). Maybe if the movie had concluded with Whitaker dancing with the beast at the interminable post-nuptial party, they’d have had something. But it doesn’t and they don’t. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief strong language.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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