Our Family Wedding


Our Family Wedding

Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia wonder if a remake of "The Odd Couple" is next.

(2010) Romantic Comedy (Fox Searchlight) Forest Whitaker, Carlos Mencia, America Ferrera, Regina King, Lance Gross, Diana Maria Riva, Lupe Ontiveros, Anjelah Johnson, Charlie Murphy, Vivek Shah, Shannyn Sossamon, Warren Sapp, James Lesure. Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

One of the challenges of a marriage is uniting disparate families or at least getting them to co-exist. When you add the elements of different cultures and religions, things can get awfully dicey.

Lucia Ramirez (Ferrera) and Markus Boyd (Gross) have been living together for some time and are deeply in love. She is a Columbia Law School drop-out, teaching underprivileged kids in New York. He is a Columbia Medical School grad, about to join up with Doctors Without Borders in Laos. The two want to get married, but the issue is breaking it to their folks – because they want to get married before they both leave for Laos.

Fortunately, their folks all live in Los Angeles so it’s a train ride back to the City of Angels to inform their parents. Markus’ parents were divorced early on but he was raised by Brad (Whitaker), his dad – a popular all-night DJ. Lucia’s parents – dad Miguel (Mencia) and mom Sonia (Riva) are middle class Mexican-Americans, with dad owning a tow service. Lucia has neglected to tell them that she’s dropped out of Law School and that she’s dating, let alone dating an African American guy. Now, she’s come to tell them she’s marrying him. Probably not the wisest course of action.

The dads instantly butt heads, having met previously in an unpleasant situation (Miguel towed Brad’s Jag) and they continue to constantly one-up each other. They recognize that the wedding is inevitable so each tries to impose his stamp on the ceremony, from the music to the cake to the seating arrangements. Pretty soon the pressures being placed on the kids threaten not only their relationship but those of their parents as well.

This could have been a decent enough movie – the premise is sound – but, unfortunately, it’s wildly inconsistent. For every moment that is amusing (Lucia’s serenade to Markus causing dogs to howl) there’s at least one more that makes you squirm (a wayward goat eating Viagra and then attempting to hump Brad’s leg). The hit-and-miss nature of the movie makes watching it jarring upon occasion.

Ferrera is an enormously appealing actress; her work on “Ugly Betty” as well as her breakout role in Real Women Have Curves shows this to be true. She’s also appealing here but she’s largely used in a reactive role and for a law student who supposedly has a great relationship with her dad, she makes some remarkably foolish decisions. Mencia is actually quite good as well, although he sometimes descends into shtick – but that may well be the fault of the writers more than him.

It is Whitaker who is most surprising of all. He seems uncomfortable and confused here, not nearly to the standards of an Oscar nominee who is one of the better actors working today. His comic timing seems a bit off in places and the confirmed bachelor bit wears thin quickly. I have to wonder if he saw the goat humping his leg in the script and deciding to phone it in from there.

Riva and Johnson contribute nicely as Lucia’s mother and sister respectively. However, by and large, most of the cast seems to be written to confirm racial stereotypes. It can be off-putting especially when you get the Hispanic grandmother (Ontiveros) fainting at the sight of a black man who’s dating her granddaughter. Oh, the horror.

Clearly, this country has continuing problems with race relations and I have no objection to exploring that situation, but I would rather it was not done in quite so dumb a manner. While the movie has some nice moments and occasionally a salient point to make, it torpedoes its own best intentions with infantile humor and poorly executed bits. The subject deserved better treatment – and a better script with better directorial decisions. Sadly, it got none of these.

WHY RENT THIS: Some of the moments are delightful and funny. Mencia and Ferrera do a good job.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Sometimes the movie tries too hard to be funny and falls flat. Whitaker, a terrific actor, seems lost in his role. Offensive racial stereotypes are reinforced.

FAMILY VALUES: There are some sexual situations and some crude language briefly.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The parts of the dads were initially offered to – and rejected by – Samuel L. Jackson and George Lopez who discussed the matter on Lopez’ talk show.  

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: There’s a gag reel here but otherwise unremarkable.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $21.4M on an unreported production budget; the movie probably broke even.

FINAL RATING: 5/10

TOMORROW: Final Day of Cinema365: From the Heart

New Releases for the Week of March 12, 2010


March 12

Matt Damon finds out from his agent that he lost the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

THE GREEN ZONE

 

(Universal) Matt Damon, Brendan Gleeson, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, Khalid Abdalla, Said Faraj. Directed by Paul Greengrass

It was the job of Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction during the early days of the occupation of Baghdad. It was also becoming increasingly frustrating and suspicious to him that he was coming up empty on every single occasion. He and his men are being sent to a variety of sites based on the intelligence gathered from a single source, the veracity of which Miller is coming to doubt. Needing answers as to why good men are dying for what appears to be no discernable gain, he stumbles upon a massive conspiracy and cover-up that could change the game for an entire nation.

See the trailer and featurettes here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: R (for violence and language)

Our Family Wedding

(Fox Searchlight) Forrest Whitaker, America Ferrera, Carlos Mencia, Regina King. Two bright young people meet in college, fall in love, graduate and plan to get married. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not when the two are from two different ethnic groups with egocentric, uber-competitive fathers who want to turn the wedding into personal statements. The old adage is that when you marry someone, you marry their family and this comedy plays into that. Can true love conquer all? Seeing as this was made in Hollywood, I strongly suspect the answer is yes.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG-13 (for some sexual content and brief strong language)

Remember Me

(Summit) Robert Pattinson, Pierce Brosnan, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper. A rebellious young New Yorker, estranged from his wealthy father finds himself falling in love unexpectedly with a young woman who has daddy issues of her own. Through their love they find healing where they least expected to find it. Charter members of Team Edward should flock to this one.

See the trailer, featurettes and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, sexual content, language and smoking)

She’s Out of My League

(DreamWorks) Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, TJ Miller, Nate Torrence. A mild mannered airport security agent with fair to middling looks finds himself in a relationship with a successful and incredibly beautiful woman who has fallen hard for him. He has to figure out a way to make things work with an alpha male ex-boyfriend out to reclaim her and when everyone, including himself, believes she’s way above his pay grade.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: R (for language and sexual content)                                                    

The Yellow Handkerchief

(Goldwyn) William Hurt, Kristen Stewart, Maria Bello, Eddie Redmayne. A young girl impulsively accepts a ride from a young man and then the two of them pick up an older man who’s hitchhiking. All of them have something in their past that they are or have been running away from. As they take a road trip in post-Katrina Louisiana they find that the path to true freedom often comes at a heavy price.

See the trailer, featurettes and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, some violence, language and thematic elements)