In pursuit of matrimonial bliss and to encourage good fortune, the saying goes that every bride should have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue on her wedding day. And although you could perhaps best liken the task of a movie director to a wedding planner instead of a bride, essentially Brown Sugar and The Wood filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa followed the exact same advice in bringing 2010's Our Family Wedding to the screen.
By playing up the angle of the overbearing patriarch best epitomized in the classic and contemporary versions of Father of the Bride the movie takes something old but manages to turn it into something uniquely new while introducing us to two dads of completely different ethnicities than the lily-white genre usually presents as we meet the African-American groom's father Brad Boyd (Forest Whitaker) and the Mexican-American bride's father Miguel Ramirez (Carlos Mencia).
In setting up all of the culture clashes, misunderstandings and mishaps that will follow to help fuel the comedic plot, the director along with his co-writers Wayne Conley and Malcolm Spellman borrow heavily from far more successful comedies and dramas including the classic Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (another “something old”) as well as the Meet the Parents franchise among others.
Likewise, in lifting a sequence where the Father of the Bride runs into trouble while scoping out the bathroom of the groom's father, this time instead of Steve Martin's shenanigans, we experience Carlo Mencia's as he knocks a bottle of something blue – namely Brad's Viagra -- down the sink.
Similarly it replaces another Bride plot device of an athletic display that works in the groom's favor instead of the dad's by changing out basketball for softball. Thus, while giving us more loony relatives in some ethnic caricature scenes that rival My Big Fat Greek Wedding for most cringe-worthy, all of these “somethings” collide.
And although everything about Our Family Wedding feels overly familiar and predictable and you could play a game of “spot the influence” as you watch, shouting out The In-Laws or Meet the Parents from one scene to the next, it's a benign and affable film that manages to squeak by based on the charm of its crackerjack cast.
To this end, the bride and groom fit the genre prerequisite of being both bland and adorable so that the dads get the opportunity to shine as America Ferrera's Lucia and Lance Gross' Marcus are reminded that it's their marriage but their family's wedding when the plans for a tasteful, intimate gathering blow-up into an overwhelming affair.
While Mencia provides a great deal of the laughter in the film, despite the fact that he and Whitaker are forced to overplay their first meeting to unbelievable effect as Miguel fills in for a sick employee and tows Brad's luxury car away before his eyes, it's particularly refreshing to see the Oscar winning Whitaker in a comedy for a change.
Yet stealing away most of Whitaker's thunder is the under-utilized Jerry Maguire MVP Regina King as Angela, Brad's long-time best friend who helped raise Marcus. Similar to her work in Maguire which reminds you on repeat viewings of the fact that half of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Oscar truly belongs to her, King is flawless here, playing the supportive ally of Brad who deserves to be a more permanent fixture in his life, which we see gradually escalate as friendly banter moves into flirtation and then into one of the movie's multiple cake fights.
Still when a film script repeats itself with duplicate cake fights and far too many scenes involving the recitation of the same song lyrics, it's a sign that the writers were scrambling blind which is apparent throughout as problems brought up in the film are glossed over far too easily including one heartbreaking scene when Lucia's mother overhears her two daughters ridiculing her lot in life as the type of Latina they've vowed never to become.
Moreover, we never really understand why Lucia has been keeping both the existence of Marcus and her decision to drop out of law school to pursue volunteer teaching work from her entire family aside from the fact that it helps build the plot and make everything awkward when the two families get together.
These issues create some conflicting viewpoints when it comes to the character of Lucia – possibly indicative that the script was written by three men – as just one of a handful of females both on and off screen including an overly clingy wife of Taye Diggs and Whitaker's cruel ex-wife who abandoned her son that feel just as stereotypical as some of the racial insults and ethnic barbs the two dads throw at each other.
Thus you can't help wishing that another writer (or a different team altogether) had taken an additional pass at the screenplay to offer us much more in the “something new” department since the premise was promising and it broke through the color barriers of most Caucasian wedding pictures without of course, the name Tyler Perry being attached to it.
Nonetheless, while the ingredients don't all blend together smoothly during its 103 minute running time despite the gorgeous production values that amp up the Fox Searchlight Blu-ray presentation of the film with some sparkling night shots, overall this forgettable but mildly diverting Wedding boasts a few genuinely entertaining moments to keep you interested enough to remain on the movie's guest list.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.