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List: Movie Weddings

Posted on February 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Ann Hornaday has a marvelous article in the Washington Post about one of the most popular themes in movies: weddings.

And why shouldn’t Hollywood love a good wedding? With its swirl of heightened emotions, its simmering leitmotifs of love and loss, fear and hope, all swathed in a frothy confection of pink roses, white butter cream and queen-for-a-day tulle, the wedding provides an irresistible trope, from the ditziest rom-com to the bloodiest gangster epic. It’s a tiny three-act drama in microcosm (the incident-filledrun-up to the ceremony, the ceremony itself, the aftermath) that can give audiences insta-catharsis. And whether a marriage is meant to be or doomed to fail, there’s something viscerally satisfying about a wedding, in all its reassuring ritual….We cherish them not just as classic examples of courtship at its most idealized but also as trenchant social commentaries. If they initially charmed audiences with gorgeous movie stars, dreamy romance and zany comedy, they endure because they’re such revealing reflections of their times.

Hornaday points out that if you search for “wedding” on the Internet Movie Database, you will find “more than 2,157 hits — happily, 500 more than the number for ‘funeral.'”

There are weddings in romance movies, of course, and in comedies and dramas, but you can find them even in gangster movies, war movies, movies for children and movies for adults. Sometimes the main character is the bride or groom but very often the wedding couple are secondary characters and the wedding is just a place for all the drama or comedy or even action to play out. Sometimes a movie wedding is the culmination of the plot because the couple gets married and sometimes it is the culmination of the plot because the ceremony is interrupted. The Baxter makes the guy whose job in the story is to get left at the alter the center of the movie. (One of the highlights is the wonderful Peter Dinklage as a wedding planner.)

Before there were movies, there were fairy tales that often ended with a wedding. Weddings are in the same category as the lost ark or the secret formula or the capturing of the bridge or winning the big game. Love is life’s big adventure and a wedding is the symbol of its ultimate expression. And it is also a lot of fun to see other cultures and traditions. Here are some of my favorite movie wedding scenes. I’d love to hear yours, too.

1. The Godfather One of the greatest American films begins with a wedding reception that gives us unforgettable introductions to the entire cast, their values, and their relationships.

2. The Deer Hunter A agonizing film about the impact of the Vietnam war on three friends begins with an extended wedding scene that establishes the foundation for what is to come by making us not just care about the characters; after that wedding reception, filmed with such intimacy, we almost feel like part of the family.

3. The Philadelphia Story My all-time favorite movie is this sophisticated and witty story about the forthcoming wedding of a wealthy woman to an executive with political ambitions. Complications ensue when a reporter, a photographer, and her ex-husband show up for the festivities.

4. The Graduate A very few movies seem to express and even shape the themes of their time. And a small fraction of those hold up over time as works of art. “The Graduate” leads that category with brilliant direction from Mike Nichols, a haunting soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel, and superb performances by Dustin Hoffman as Ben, the title character, who symbolizes the disaffection of his generation and Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, the friend of his parents who symbolizes the emptiness of hers. When Ben finds something meaningful in a relationship with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, he ends up disrupting her wedding in a scene that has become iconic.

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5. Four Weddings and a Funeral Screenwriter Richard Curtis based this on his own experience of finding himself at a seemingly endless stream of weddings. Charlie (Hugh Grant, in a star-making role) meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell) at the first of the weddings and their relationship evolves over the rest of the title ceremonies. But this is really the story of Charlie and his friends, all of whom find love by (but sometimes not until) the closing credits.

6. Bend it Like Beckham Parminder Nagra plays Jesminder, the daughter of a traditional Punjabi Sikh family in London who wants to play soccer. Her sister’s wedding plans provide a context for her struggles against her family’s reluctance to let her play, especially when it turns out that the soccer finals are at the same time.

7. Lovers and Other Strangers The wedding at the center of this film is the setting for a wide variety of happy and sad, healthy and dysfunctional love relationships among the extended family, played by a stand-out cast including Gig Young, Cloris Leachman, Anne Meara, Bea Arthur, and Anne Jackson. The Carpenters’ standard, “For All We Know” was written for this film.

8. Father of the Bride There has never been a more beautiful bride than Elizabeth Taylor in this affectionate comedy about the impact of a wedding on the family. Spencer Tracy plays the beleaguered father who is expected to pay endless bills and endure endless relatives on both sides. The scene where he comforts her after she (briefly) breaks off the engagement is one of my very favorites.

9. Fiddler on the Roof This classic musical based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem about a small Jewish village in late 19th century Russia. The main character is a poor milkman who has a lot of challenges in marrying off three of his daughters. The themes of tradition and change in the romances of the three daughters and in the community at large come together in the warm and loving wedding celebration (with the lovely song “Sunrise, Sunset”).

10. My Big Fat Greek Wedding Inspired by the real-life experience of Nia Vardalos, the daughter of Greek immigrants, this touching and hilarious story of a shy young woman in a big, noisy family who finds love with a kind-hearted teacher, leading to some confusion and misunderstandings but also a lot of laughter and new connections.

And don’t forget: The Wedding Crashers, The Runaway Bride, Rachel Getting Married, It Happened One Night, Goodbye, Columbus, Confetti, Cousins, and the French movie it was based on, “Cousin, Cousine.”

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For Your Netflix Queue Great Movie Moments Lists Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Neglected gem Rediscovered Classic

27 Dresses

Posted on January 17, 2008 at 7:40 am

B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for language, some innuendo and sexuality.
Profanity: Some strong language (s-word, b-word)
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking (as liberating and empowering), characters get tipsy
Violence/ Scariness: Comic violence including slaps
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: January 18, 2007

27%20dresses.jpg Jane has a special closet in her apartment filled with 27 dresses so ugly that only two things can be true: (1) they were all bridesmaid’s dresses, and that means (2) all 27 brides assured her that they could be shortened and worn again.
Jane (Katherine Heigl of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Knocked Up”) is a natural caretaker. After her mother died when she was a child, she took care of her sister. She has taken care of 27 different brides, helping out with wedding details that have her over-stuffed day-planner bristling with yellow sticky reminders. In her job, she takes care of her boss, George (Edward Burns), the too-good-to-be-true mountain-climbing CEO of an impeccably politically correct corporation. She makes sure he gets his breakfast burrito and picks up his dry cleaning. In her few spare moments, she sighs with love for George or sighs with hope over the weekly write-ups of the most romantic weddings in the Sunday paper. Her dreams are of white dresses, tossed bouquets, and big cakes with lots of icing. Her reality is…dreams.
Just as she decides to let George know how she feels, urged on by her best friend Casey (the marvelous Judy Greer, wasted in an underwritten role as the movie’s designated sleep-around friend), Jane’s globe-trotting model sister Tess (Malin Akerman) arrives and she and George immediately decide to get married, with guess who taking care of all the cake, flower, and decoration details. All of this is so distracting that Jane barely has time to notice the killer smile of Kevin, a cynical reporter (the marvelous James Marsden, almost-wasted in an under-written role that seems left over from an old Clark Gable character). For no reason except the demands of the increasingly flimsy plot, Kevin is required to keep a couple of obvious secrets.
Heigl is the real deal, with girl-you-wish-lived-next-door imperishable but accessible beauty, appealing, endearing, vulnerable, with understated comic timing. Marsden, too, has charm to spare. Both hold our interest and keep us rooting for them even when the script does its best to get in the way. Do we really need yet another scene with characters letting go by getting tipsy and singing 80’s songs? Akerman (“The Heartbreak Kid”), in her second role in five months as a selfish, irresponsible, and all-around nightmare bombshell who impulsively gets engaged, struggles with an impossible task as she tries to be both over-the-top obnoxious and sympathetic at the same time. What does work is Heigl and the dresses and the fact that, like Jane, most of the audience loves to get misty at weddings. Watching this film is like waiting to catch the bride’s bouquet, more anticipation than fulfillment.

(more…)

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