Love, Weddings & Other Disasters is sub-Garry Marshall drek built upon half-assed jokes and underdeveloped storylines.
Dennis Dugan has gifted the world some of Adam Sandler’s best films (Happy Gilmore and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan stand out) and punished it with some of his worst (Jack and Jill, Grown Ups). Who could have guessed, though, that the man secretly harbored a desire to become the next Garry Marshall? That director’s formula for romantic comedies featuring star-studded ensembles and multiple intersecting storylines gets quite a workout in Love, Weddings & Other Disasters. In fact, if Marshall hadn’t died in 2016, one could be forgiven for mistaking this thing for yet another product from the same factory line as Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. The non-descript, workmanlike direction resembles late-‘90s sitcoms (very Marshall), and there are lots of shamelessly mugging extras (that one can only imagine are close, personal friends of the filmmaker). The half-assed jokes and underdeveloped storylines also scream Mother’s Day (one of the worst films I’ve ever seen — and Love, Weddings & Other Disasters is no worse than that one, so credit where it’s due). The one stark difference? No huge A-list cast; only Diane Keaton and Jeremy Irons lend star power.
There are many things I did not expect when I sat down to watch Love, Weddings & Other Disasters, a hypothetical list that may have included: seeing Richard Kline, best known as Jack’s horn-dog best friend Larry from the Nick at Nite staple Three’s Company. Comparatively, having Kline’s character fix up their friend on a blind date with a literal blind woman is a bit more predictable. Keaton plays the blind woman, and she’s chosen to play her role as broad as possible; I’m talking looking-at-a-wall-when-talking-to-other-people broad. One hopes she was directed to act this way, because for the love of God, she was freakin’ Annie Hall! Here, the actress is made to trip over multiple pieces of furniture. At one point, the film’s other star, Irons, has to wear a blindfold to simulate being blind — and then falls down an escalator. I have no clue how Dugan convinced these two to be in this film, although it is quite possible they are the worst part. Faring much better is, of all people, Maggie Grace, who plays a wedding planner trying to overcome public embarrassment after a botched engagement. Grace has real chemistry with her tentative love interest (Diego Boneta); the two even share a few moments of welcome sweetness. The same certainly can’t be said for the subplot involving a reality show, a stripper chained to a gambling addict, and the mafia. There is also a storyline about a Boston tour guide looking for his lost “Cinderella,” a woman with a tattoo of a glass slipper on her neck. Jesus. And I haven’t gotten to music artists Elle King and Jesse McCartney, who pop up here and surprisingly do not play themselves; because even they, presumably, were too embarrassed to associate their brands with this thing. Anyway, hey, Sandler: please take Dugan’s calls. The man is struggling over here.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | December 2020 — Part 1.