REVIEW

Love, Weddings and Other Disasters both maddening and disappointing

Love, Weddings and Other Disasters (M, 96 minutes). No stars. None. Zero.

You remember when your mum used that old guilt trip on you that went "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed"?

Love, Weddings and Other Disasters is the kind of film that might provoke use of such a line.

I can imagine folk getting excited at the prospect of the pairing of big name stars like Jeremy Irons and Dianne Keaton. I can imagine kookier folk excited at the prospect of having some former pop culture figures like Maggie Grace from Lost and teen idol Jessie McCartney dusted off for a big screen airing. And then I can imagine their sense of being let down, deflated.

But I'm not let down and I'm not disappointed. I am mad.

I'm mad at having my time wasted in both watching and then writing about this film, a film that had me sighing so deeply I developed a case of existential ennui.

Love, Weddings and Other Disasters is billed as a multi-story romantic comedy, which is exactly like that other great film with Weddings in the title, only that film was funny. It enjoys the same episodic approach to story as Love Actually, but without that film's charm.

It's been some time since I have endured a film as comedically misfired, a production as tone deaf to the world into which it is released, full of the kind of jokes that would have you brought before HR if you tried them on at work.

It is written and directed by Dennis Dugan, director of much of the Adam Sandler oeuvre including Happy Gilmore, You Don't Mess With the Zohan and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, except those film have Sandler's charisma and his warm heart.

Jeremy Irons and Diane Keaton in Love, Weddings and Other Disasters. Picture: Rialto Distribution

Jeremy Irons and Diane Keaton in Love, Weddings and Other Disasters. Picture: Rialto Distribution

Tying the narrative of this film together is the character of Jessie (Maggie Grace), a wedding planner who is all too aware of her own failings in the relationship department. As the film opens, she is tandem skydiving with a man and as they loudly fight on their descent, she unclips him and the two of them crash into and completely ruin a wedding they land in the middle of.

Jessie's major clients are couple Robert (Dennis Staroselsky) and Liz (Caroline Portu). Liz is Jessie's best friend while Robert is running for the job of Mayor of Boston. Robert's hapless brother Jimmy (Andy Goldenberg) is in a relationship of his own, with the Russian exotic dancer Olga (Melinda Hill). The relationship is a little forced, they are literally chained together as contestants in a television game show.

Running the wedding venue where the dream wedding will happen is celebrity wedding planner Lawrence (Jeremy Irons) whose uptight demeanour meets its match in the literal blind date he enjoys with vision impaired photographer Sara (Dianne Keaton).

And the final of the set of characters circling around Jessie and the dream wedding are bandmates Lenny (Jessie McCartney) and Mack (Diego Boneta), whose relationship is about to get the Yoko experience.

It is hard to conceive that Dennis Dugan has such a weight of experience in the directors chair when you see the clumsy scene set-ups, the scenes that wear out their welcome with minutes to go, and particularly the scenes with Dugan himself as a dinosaur television host spitting out jokes Rodney Dangerfield would have felt in poor taste in our woke era.

There are elements of this production that are watchable. Irons and Keaton are great together. They're great in everything, of course. But the material they're given to work with is first draft stuff.

They're set up on a blind date, and Dianne Keaton is blind. It's a film that relies far too heavily on slapstick and pratfalls, and yet it is hard not to flinch when Dugan makes his blind character trip over and smash into things for laughs.

Iron's character is so self-involved and stupid that he moves Keaton's character's apartment furniture around because he thinks it looks better that way.

I mean, come on.

The only decently written character is the exotic Russian dancer Olga. It's a thankless, one-note character but Melinda Hill gives it her very best.

It feels cruel to be so blistering about this film. If a friend came to you this dishevelled, you'd take them in, you'd give them a hug and ask them if they were okay.

But there are big names with years of experience here playing with real money, and it is both maddening and disappointing.

This story Love, Weddings and Other Disasters both maddening and disappointing first appeared on The Canberra Times.