OUR FAMILY WEDDING
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Carlos Mencia, America Ferrera, Lance Gross, Regina King, Diana-Maria Riva, Anjelah Johnson, Lupe Ontiveros
MPAA Rating: (for some sexual content and brief strong language)
Running Time: 1:30
Release Date: 3/12/10
Review by Mark Dujsik | March 11, 2010
The best that can be said of the characters populating Our Family Wedding is that one doesn't hate them, but one is entirely apathetic about them. They just are those types of characters, ones who exist solely to act out manufactured conflict, with no apparent life outside of said conflict (except the little bit that's established to aid in the assembly said conflict), and hence in complete compulsion of the script, even when it contradicts logic, what's come before it, and, well, basic humor.
Our Family Wedding is a mess of forced conflict, characterization, and jokes. One need look no further than its handling of the culture clash between its main couples' African-American and Latino families to notice the movie's lack of subtlety or basic human comprehension. The discord is hardly touched upon except when the screenplay needs it to be there, usually for a lame joke about subdued or blatant-in-its-passivity racism. Someone more in tune with such a perspective should (and probably will) touch more upon this element. It is, however, worth pointing out that, when you have only one of the couple's families make the outdated point that marrying outside of race is a problem and on top of it fall victim to stereotypical presentation, there's something very troubling underneath.
The clash arises because Lucia (America Ferrera) and Marcus (Lance Gross) are getting married. They haven't told their parents yet but have arrived in Los Angeles to break the news at a collective dinner with both families.
Lucia's father Miguel (Carlos Mencia, unconvincing in almost every moment on screen) is angry that her daughter has kept this information from him and doesn't like Marcus. He says it's because he will keep Lucia from achieving her full potential as a lawyer, and Miguel hasn't even learned that his daughter dropped out of law school, moved in with the guy, and has been having sex. He's a bit conservative, that one.
Marcus' dad Brad (Forest Whitaker), a late-night radio DJ with an inordinate amount of income coming his way considering his career (He lives in a large, modern house, drives a classic car, and has his own personal lawyer Angela (Regina King) at his beck and call), is fine with pairing. He just has a problem with picking up the bill while Lucia's family makes all the decisions about what the wedding, literally in his backyard, will be like. After all, he's got his own womanizing lifestyle as an unreasonably rich late-night radio personality to worry about.
This, though, isn't enough for screenwriters Wayne Conley, Malcolm Spellman, and Rick Famuyiwa (who also directed) in terms of setbacks, so they invent a pre-family-dinner meeting between Brad and Miguel in which Miguel tows Brad's elegant car. This pointless encounter allows the audience to groan in strained expectation of when the two men will finally, formally meet, after each repeatedly enters and exits the restaurant just as the other exits/enters. Then they continue the fight they had on the street, in which they each uses a term of familiarity before being told, e.g., "I'm not your bro," followed by yet another one.
That joke hasn't died yet? Seriously?
Anyway, their fighting goes on and on, each trying to undermine the other, until they get drunk, and then Miguel decides to take out his frustration on Marcus and Lucia. Brad, it should be noted, stays calm, cool, and collected through the whole thing, although his flirtations with Angela turn serious, leading to yet another conflict.
Did I also mention that Miguel's wife Sonia (Diana-Maria Riva) feels neglected by her husband for his love of cars? That Lucia's sister (Anjelah Johnson) is upset with her sister because she broke a childhood pact not to marry young? And that grandma (Lupe Ontiveros) falls over when she sees Marcus for the first time and realizes her granddaughter is marrying a black man? I'm not exaggerating; she actually falls over. Yes, there's something troublesome here.
Racial undertones aside, the gags apart from them are equally lame. There's a sequence in which the families try to plan out the seating plan for the wedding, as flashes of the results play out. Worse is the introduction of a box in Brad's bathroom that contains Viagra. Miguel comes across it, and oddly, leaves the bathroom acting as though he had taken some, even though we saw he didn't. Also, nothing happens with the joke then and there; he just covers himself with a pillow. That Chekhov's Male Enhancement finally comes into play right before the wedding, when a goat finds the same box. The results are less graphic than one might imagine but certainly just as pathetic.That might actually be the best place to end on Our Family Wedding: pathetic.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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