DVD Review - The Perfect Wedding

The Perfect Wedding was written by Suzanne Brockmann, Ed Gaffney and Jason T. Gaffney. Brockmann is a very prolific novelist who has penned many romance books based in the military. Ed Gaffney is her husband who is a former lawyer-turned-writer. Jason T. Gaffney is the couple's openly gay son and actor. The wife and husband was inspired to write this film for their son who also has a leading role in the movie. The couple even produced and shot the movie in their home state of Florida, so this is very much a personal project.

The story focuses on the relationships of the Fowler family, a family consisting of an elderly couple and their  two, adopted, adult children. One of whom is Alana who is in the midst of planning her wedding. The other is Paul who is a recovering alcoholic who lives at his parents' home and works at a tree nursery. For some unstated but most likely contrived reason, Alana invites Paul's ex-boyfriend Roy to stay with their family for Christmas to help with wedding plans for a big wedding that she doesn't even want.

The premise is completely contrived but the actors do a good job of not letting it feel totally artificial. Yes, the audience has to suspend disbelief to buy that Alana would invite Roy in the first place but the audience also has to suspend high disbelief that Roy would accept said invitation. Having to twice suspend disbelief over two preposterous things is a little tough, but, again the actors do a good job of amiably making it work.

It's a staple in romantic comedies for two people to find love out of awkward or unusual, social situations. Given the tone established by first-time feature director Scott Gabriel, the awkwardness here was rather down played. One would barely think there was a problem at all, but what's supposed to be the conflict is that in order to handle having to be in the same house as Paul, a man who lied and cheated on him, Roy brings along Gavin who pretends to be Roy's new boyfriend. The kicker is that Paul starts to fall for Gavin. Essentially, Paul makes moves on his ex-boyfriend's boyfriend. Paul cheated on Roy and now he's trying to make Gavin cheat on Roy too.

Because Roy and Gavin aren't really boyfriends, it's not supposed to matter. From Paul's perspective, it should. Yet, it doesn't stop him from worming his way onto Gavin. However, it's clear that Brockmann and Gaffney don't see Paul's actions as untoward and possibly despicable. They do everything they can to instead make the audience see Paul as charming, cute and later sympathetic. The film either rises or falls based on whether or not Paul's sympathy sells.

When Paul and Gavin finally kiss, Paul seems to be regretful or guilty. He doesn't recognize that he encouraged the kiss and that from almost the first second of meeting Gavin, he becomes the biggest and most obvious flirt. It's only after he's crossed the line does he take a step back. He seems to have no awareness of what he's done up until that point, which is worrisome regarding his future actions.

Brockmann and Gaffney distract from Paul's ill-conceived behavior with Alana's family and fiancé coming to the realization that she doesn't want a big, overly planned wedding. They also distract with Alana and Paul's parents who are dealing with their father Richard having the early onset of Alzheimer's disease. James Rebhorn (White Collar and Homeland) who plays Richard and Kristine Sutherland (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who plays his wife Meryl are the heart of the film. They bring warmth and pathos, even though the Alzheimer's also isn't played to great effect.

The disease like Paul's alcoholism is simply something that's part of the fabric. It gives the characters something to talk about but it's hardly the source of any dramatic conflict. Nothing the family faces here is that big of an ordeal. Even the makeshift wedding that's staged is done so with so much ease as almost to be insubstantial. The narrative is very light and fluffy. It doesn't really have the punch of a film like The Family Stone. It's instead a trifle.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended 14 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 22 mins.



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