Thank you to our special guest blogger - Todd Babcock.
Since the advent of the expression “chick flick” to the lexicon of film sub-genres ‘the wedding film’ (that sub-genre of the romantic comedy) has gotten swept up into it. There is, of course, a certain amount of common sense to this cohabitation of the two styles as anyone will tell you (without hesitation, I may recall) “weddings are all about the bride.”
Yet, in recent years we are seeing an evolution not just in weddings but in wedding films. The groom, that silent sufferer of old to all things romantic and sweet, has suddenly taken a step upon the stage of the modern union with some voice and some style of his own. Thusly, we see reflected, that male energy taking its place up on screen.
Of course, left to its own devices, the ‘wedding film for guys’ can quickly devolve into simply, ‘the bachelor party flick’ which, of course, can be the anti-thesis of a wedding film. It’s a slippery slope from one last night with the guys to complete sabotage of the entire point of the party.
But boys will be boys so let’s not be too hard on them. As long as there is a happy ending, I propose these films for fun watching to enjoy the wedding spirit and not put the guys in tuxes in the corner.
1. ‘THE WEDDING SINGER’ (1998)
This film has just that perfect blend of the modern wedding movie. Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler), the wedding singer, gets stood up at the altar and loses faith in romance. Enter Julia (Drew Barrymore), a caterer at the same functions, who is preparing for her own nuptials to a cad. Meet-cute and proceed.
‘The Wedding Singer’ manages to reel in men with the Sandler gross out humor and gags but reign it in just enough to not be alienating to the romanticism of the theme. Drew Barrymore is perfectly endearing as the good girl following through with the principle of her engagement when her heart tells her otherwise.
Much of the film enjoys showing a couple preparing and working on weddings while having some fun at its expense.
(Favorite moment: Steve Buscemi as the beyond drunk best man venting a lifetime of rage in his toast. Later when trying to heckle the wedding singer simply chokes on his own inanity. “Hey, wedding singer!” -almost falls over-“ Woooo!!!”)
2. ‘MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING’ (1997)
In my opinion this was an instant classic. Julliane (Julia Roberts), a woman too smart, busy and professional to be conventionally in love learns her best friend, Michael (Dylan McDermont) is engaged.
Waking her up to feelings of loss and regret, she comes to the decision he is her only chance at happiness and she must win him over. Comedy ensues.
The director, PJ Hogan (‘Muriel’s Wedding’), manages a quick-paced comedy that is surprisingly funny and original and need not be a guilty pleasure for women.
(Favorite moment: In a sneaky moment the director manages to slip in a musical number as Rupert Everett, posing as Julliane’s fiancé to make Michael jealous, breaks into song in a fabricated story on how they met. “The moment I wake up…”)
3. ‘THE WEDDING CRASHERS’ (2005)
John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughan) are two divorce attorneys who, ironically, in their free time go to weddings for their entertainment. Problem is, they aren’t invited. Using these events for free food, booze and girls all that changes when John actually falls for Claire (Rachel McAdams) and starts breaking all their crashing rules.
Surely this seems like an un-conventional pick on a list of wedding movies. The title alone may seem contrary to the theme. Yet, what can’t be escaped in this film is the unabashed love of weddings by the movie and by the characters. While the theme may be about taking advantage of the all the work these events become, down deep, is a love of the celebration and the feel good vibe one gets when actually being part of such a worthy celebration. And, yes, we get a happy ending.
(Favorite moment: When John eyes Claire as a bridesmaid at the altar poorly stifling her laughter at the couple’s inane vows. C’mon, we’ve all been there. “You are the captain of my ship…”)
4. ‘FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL’ (1994)
Serial monogamist Charles (Hugh Grant) meets the perfect woman, Carrie (Andie McDowell), at wedding number one of the title. They hit it off perfectly; he falls madly, and then learns she is engaged and unattainable. Three weddings and said funeral ensue as he watches those around him find love as he grows more and more despondent.
For a wedding film this hits all the right notes ranging from the comedic and absurd to sadness and loss. Since the protagonist is a man we can certify it as male-friendly but a bride should be cautioned as this certainly tip-toes dangerously close to the “chick flick”. You know your man by now. If you’re not sure please proceed to the next title.
(Favorite moment: When Charles gives into to his romantic futility and agrees to marry an ex flame he receives the news that Carrie is now single just before he is to walk down the aisle. Putting his head down he explodes a liturgy of curses in front of the priest. “Bugger, bugger, bugger!!!”)
5. ‘THE HANGOVER’
Three men awake the day after a bachelor party for their close friend with no memory of the occasion and have, in fact, lost the groom.
Place this one in the ‘slippery slope’ file of wedding pictures.
Truly guy-centric with all its outlandish celebration of drunken inanity and gross out humor. Yet one can’t lose sight that finding the groom and getting him married is of the utmost importance. To wit, if there were no love or sense of responsibility then there would be no obstacle for these men to overcome. Not only that, but in the end, even the most ardent anti-marriage character, Phil (Bradley Cooper), is married with a son and happily at that- he just has to be ‘that guy’ we all have in our lives.
(Favorite moment: Every unfinished thought by Alan (Zach Galifianakis) that sounds so disturbed but is never explored. “I’m not supposed to be within two hundred feet of a school…or a Chuck E. Cheese.”)
6. ‘THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE’ (2009)
Henry (Eric Bana) is a time traveler who has no consistency in his life until he meets Clare (Rachel McAdams) and they struggle to create a marriage over the decades of lapses.
While this selection isn’t over the plate for a wedding film it takes its theme of time, aging, and a couple maturing together through difficult obstacles very sincerely. While men may enjoy the science fiction aspect of the story in the end it truly is a message about love and commitment. (You don’t have to tell him that, by the way)
And, yes, there is a wedding. This one should make the list alone for its originality with “the groom almost misses the event” cliché we’ve seen so many times upended.
(Favorite moment: When Henry gives Clare a winning lottery ticket and she watches in guilt as the numbers are exposed and Henry calls them out beforehand. It’s such a guilty pleasure. “My condition has a lot of downsides. This isn’t one of them.”)
7. ‘MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING’ (1993)
Young lovers Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard)are to be married in one week. To pass the time, they conspire with Don Pedro (Denzel Washington)to set a "lover's trap" for Benedick (Kenneth Branagh), an arrogant confirmed bachelor, and Beatrice( Emma Thomson), his favorite sparring partner. Meanwhile, the evil Don Jon (Keanu Reeves) conspires to break up the wedding by accusing Hero of infidelity. Comedy and drama ensue in equal force.
Now this one depends on the guy, of course. In some circles watching any Shakespeare movie on romance might be considered a chick flick but this one is so brilliantly performed and directed to eschew such gender boundaries. The writing ain’t bad either. Keep an eye out for Michael Keeton’s slight homage to Monty Python’s shtick.
(Favorite moment: Every scene with Beatrice and Benedick. The then-married couple of Branagh and Thompson were at their best here. Beatrice, ”I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.” Benedick, “What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?”)
8. ‘THE PROPOSAL’ (2009)
A control-freak boss, Margaret (Sandra Bullock) faces deportation to Canada when it is revealed she isn’t a US citizen. To fix the situation she negotiates with her assistant, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her. Complications and comedy ensue when Margaret learns there’s more to life, love and Andrew than she had bargained for.
I was reluctant to even see this film at first, I’ll admit. The pairing of its two stars and the premise seemed a little too cute and packaged. That said, the charm and earned laughs won me over by the end along with the supporting cast and a solid script. Makes a great case for finding love in unexpected places and seeing people outside the paradigm of what they do for a living.
(Favorite moment: When Margaret gets out of the shower and falls into the arms of Andrew as the two feign disgust at every inch of contact. “Margaret, will you marry me? Because I'd like to date you.”)
9. ‘JERRY MAGUIRE’ (1996)
When super sports agent and womanizer Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a moral awakening when he writes a mission statement to his company that finds him isolated and alone save his one client Rod (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and his secretary, Dorothy (Renee Zellweger).
While the wedding in this film isn’t front and center the marriage of Jerry and Dorothy is. A terrific movie that examines the deeper resonance of what partnership entails while keeping the men engaged with sports and business and a lot of comedy.
(Favorite moment: Regina King as Rod’s wife, Marcee, as she watches him get injured in a pivotal game only to recover minutes later. She goes from uncensored despair to blowing kisses to the screen. It’s simply marvelous. “We just don’t work without him, Jerry!”)
10. ‘SHE’S HAVING A BABY’ (1988)
Jake (Kevin Bacon) and Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern) are newly married and now face the ‘what next?’ dilemma as they adjust to suburban life in Chicago. As the title suggests, she gets pregnant and the young couple have to face the bigger questions that come along with that discovery.
This is one of the more under-rated movies in the late John Hughes repertoire (‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Pretty in Pink’, etal). It manages to balance biting satire and broad comedy along with heart rending moments that remind one of the point of it all.
(Favorite moment: Alec Baldwin, as Jake’s best friend, Davis telling him in the car just before he walks into the church to get married that he still has an out. It’s so brutal and cruel I have to admit I quoted this to my own best friend at the same instance. Luckily, he got the reference. ; ) “You just give me the word and we are out of here.”)
Of course any list comes with flaws and omissions but it’s a great place to start. Then again, if you’re reading this you probably have those ten thousand other things you’re supposed to be doing. Maybe when Mr. Man tries to pull the old “you plan it the way you want and I’ll show up” you can suggest he track down some of these titles. Then, while watching, he may come to some epiphany and work his darndest to make it the best day of your lives. Or does that just happen in the movies?