Ah, the tradition of making videos to capture those special moments in life; whether they be first birthdays, family holidays, or indeed weddings. Everyone’s been in one, and some of you may have filmed them… but how many of you have actually sat and watched those videos again? Honestly? I’m willing to bank on “not many”. I remember when I was younger being filmed on camcorder when in Disney World… have I ever seen that tape again? Have I hell! Even if my VHS player wasn’t in the attic, I still wouldn’t feel the desire to dig out those old recordings. So is The Wedding Video an exception to the rule, or should it still be gathering dust next to those old mangled GI Joe toys that will definitely be worth something one day?
Before I bestow my opinion on this, let’s just fill you in on what this film is about. Firstly, it’s a British film, filled with British actors. This probably means a US remake is about 3 years away (hello Death At A Funeral – I’m looking at you). The film revolves around Raif (Rufus Hound), who decides to record the lead up to the wedding of his brother (Robert Webb) and his fiancée Saskia (Lucy Punch) as his wedding gift. It all operates in a very “found footage”-esque way, with the film recorded in a style to mimic the handy-cams made famous by The Blair Witch Project. It’s a nice take on the rom-com genre, as handy-cams have been used to record poltergeists, witches, and even ghosts on the moon… but not yet for the terrors of a wedding.
But that’s where the novelty and for me, enjoyment, wears off. I’m a great fan and advocate of British comedy. Recent series such as The Inbetweeners and Peep Show clearly showcase how fantastic the Brits are at making hilarious shows. The Inbetweeners in particular has been extremely successful, transitioning to the silver screen last year with unexpected success both financially and critically (US folks – it hits your cinemas on 7th September… and you have a horrible MTV remake of the series airing now I believe). On paper, The Wedding Video has the right ingredients to succeed, owing to the fact it has Peep Show‘s Robert Webb and comedian Rufus Hound, in addition to various other British comedy alumni. It should succeed… but I can honestly say I didn’t laugh once.
A comedy film is only as successful as the laughs it can produce, and by my judgement one smile in a 94 minute run time isn’t good. The writing fails to connect on so many levels, with most of the attempts at humour falling very short of the mark. And this comes from the writer and director combination of Tim Firth and Nigel Cole, who brought the enormously successful Calender Girls to screens in 2003. These guys aren’t rookies. They should really have nailed this, but didn’t. You may be thinking I’m an elitist or comedy snob. Yes, I have high expectations of my comedy, but I’m not alone in this. Of the 40-50 others in my screening, I heard one or two bouts of laughter in the entire film. This is in comparison to Ted, where some people wouldn’t stop laughing, regardless of whether I judged a joke to be a hit or miss (damn Cleveland Show fans).
I feel sorry for the lead actors having to work with such a poor script. Neither are really given the opportunity to flex their comedic muscles. The female lead, Lucy Punch, fares just as well owing to that script. She also exudes an aura of Jennifer Saunders in her acting. I’m not sure if this is a compliment or not, but take it as you will. Two actors are worthy of praise though: the always reliable Miriam Margoyles (Romeo & Juliet, Harry Potter) delivers in every scene she’s in – a real highlight, as does Harriet Walter (Sense & Sensibility, Atonement), playing grandmother and mother of the bride respectively. Walter‘s wedding reception speech was particularly moving; it caught me off-guard and instantly alleviated my boredom. However, not even these great performances could rescue this film. Don’t even get me started on the farcical ending either. I’d normally advocate seeing a British comedy until my face turned blue. But not this one… not in the slightest. Hell, if you had to choose between this and the weak The Lorax, I’d choose the latter. Says it all really.
The Wedding Video acts as an example of how not to write a British comedy film; ultimately coming off as something that should have been restrained to an hour-long TV episode, and not a feature length film. Recently, British comedy has seen something of a resurgence on the big screen, with such hits as Shaun of the Dead, Four Lions and The Inbetweeners Movie. Luckily these films outweigh the Beans, Lesbian Vampire Killers and The Wedding Videos of this world.
In a way The Wedding Video is pretty true to its title. Wedding videos are created to be viewed to bring back memories of a moment you can love and cherish for the rest of your life. Sometimes though they just provide bitter memories of the time you married that utter tool who treated you like something they scraped off their shoe for the next 12 months before you caught them cheating on you with that douche / slut from the next street. They’re relationships and memories you’d rather forget. This is that video.