Our Family Wedding
Quite often I’ll watch a film and think to myself: what’s up with this? Why is it so lazy and why do the characters keep behaving in this strange, un-lifelike way? It’s not often, though, that I watch something and find myself genuinely taken aback by the amount of “comedy” racism running through it. Our Family Wedding, a flat, lifeless, cliché-driven film that props itself up with the kind of gags that just make you gag, is so old-fashioned in its approach that you wonder whether director Rick Famuyiwa has been sleeping under a rock for the past thirty years.
Lucia (Ferrara) and Marcus (Gross) are the couple at the heart of this so-called comedy if, perhaps, not the central characters. They’re young and beautiful and in love and goddamnit they just want to get married. If only their old-fashioned dads Brad (Whitaker) and Miguel (Mencia) weren’t so old-fashioned! Having got engaged in secret, Lucia and Marcus decide to introduce one another to their parents for the first time. But obviously before that can happen there’s a HILARIOUS incident in which Brad’s car is towed by Miguel and then when they meet at the restaurant with their families later on they’re like “Omg! You’re that guy from before! I’m going to racially stereotype you now!” Classic humour. Many many hours later, having grudgingly agreed to put their differences aside for the moment, Brad and Miguel begin to plan their children’s wedding only SURPRISE SURPRISE suddenly everything is going wrong! Of course it is. That is so Any-Film-About-a-Wedding.
I don’t know, really. This is just a very uncomfortable film to have to sit through. Why is it that ALL the Mexican people are racist? Like when Lucia’s dad is so thrown by meeting Marcus that instead of saying “I’ll be back” he says “I’ll be black!” Why does that have to happen? And what about that scene later on when Lucia brings Marcus to meet her grandma and, upon catching sight of him, she faints and immediately starts shouting “Don’t touch me!” in Spanish? Uh, that’s racist guys. Or is it cool because this is a film about learning how to overcome differences and love each other because underneath our skin WE’RE ALL THE SAME. The only problem with that, of course, is that this has all been covered (see: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, made forty five years ago). Seriously, THIS HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE! COUNTLESS TIMES OVER! And with far more class, intelligence, humour, heart and integrity.
Race issues aside, Our Family Wedding is marginally more successful as a bog standard romantic comedy. Having said that, it also possesses that creepy, not-quite-lifelike quality as though the script was written by an alien who spent a year on Earth observing human behaviour but is yet to nail it down. People vandalise cake shops, and other people are wearing wigs for no reason and there’s a goat and for fuck’s sake the goat is eating Viagra and JESUS CHRIST it’s actually trying to penetrate Forest Whitaker. I’m not lying. There are several shots of the goat’s lower half bucking aggressively against Forest Whitaker’s groin. NO JOKE! After that happens, the goat walks by and says “Call me”. I’m being serious. The goat walks past Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker and bleats “Call me” in a goat voice.
The only good stuff here is the relationship between Lucia and her tomboy sister Isabella (Anjelah N. Johnson), whilst the perenially likable Regina King does her best with the thankless role of “Pleasant Woman”. Ultimately the cast isn’t really the problem here – Mencia, a man completely devoid of charisma and comic timing, aside. The real problem is the script they all have to chew their way through, the horribly unfunny gags they have to force laughs at, the cringe-inducing sentimentality they have to vomit out of their mouths and their eyes and their faces as though any of this actually means anything. But we all know the truth, don’t we? Weddings are nonsense. Life is meaningless. Nothing is nothing is nothing.
Your move, Our Family Wedding.