Film Review: The Wilde Wedding

Uninteresting romantic comedy starring Glens Close, Patrick Stewart and John Malkovich along with a huge cast of supporting characters who are hard to keep track of. Still, Stewart and Malkovich are entertaining.
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Storywise, there is nothing to recommend in writer-director Damian Harris’ The Wilde Wedding, a dull, banal, and predictable comedy of remarriage fashioned for a 21st century audience. Harris brings together the new normal extended family—siblings, half-siblings, in-laws, various significant others and exes galore—on the occasion of Eve Wilde’s (Glenn Close) marriage to Harold Alcott (Patrick Stewart), a very successful British novelist who lusts after other women even the night before his wedding. Hey, he can’t help it. He has sex addiction issues (a condition afflicting virtually everyone here).

Eve is a glamorous retired movie star, ready to make her fourth (or maybe it’s her fifth) trip down the aisle. The problem is that she has never fully severed her ties to first hubby Laurence Darling (John Malkovich), a “respected” actor who, unlike Eve, has never made it commercially. And boy, does that eat away at him. Together the pair has three sons, all of whom have arrived at Eve’s elegant upstate mansion with various partners, exes and children from assorted marriages in tow. A touch: The actors playing Eve and Laurence’s sons look barely any younger than their parents.

Dozens of partiers have surfaced for the festivities and are busy bedding or attempting to bed each other with varying degrees of success. It’s impossible to keep track of all the coupling subplots—or even the characters—not that any are especially gripping or endearing. Throughout, Eve’s granddaughter Mackenzie (Grace Van Patten) is filming the events for a documentary that explores the question: What is love?

Still, The Wilde Wedding is not a total loss. There is Stewart sporting a shock of wild, curly gray hair and spewing forth at the most wonderfully inopportune moments a hilarious, high-pitched whinnying giggle that’s almost worth the price of a ticket. It’s especially fun to watch him play a type so at odds with his bald, sleek, authoritative Captain Picard.

But the main reason to check this one out is Malkovich, an ever-charismatic on-screen personality. It’s easy to understand Charlie Kaufman’s fascination with him. (Admittedly, Being John Malkovich is an oddity). Malkovich also happens to be a top notch actor, a fact that he has demonstrated repeatedly in his 70-plus films—whether he’s playing an icy, sociopathic assassin in In the Line of Fire, an infantile and deranged former CIA operative in RED (and its sequel)or a seductive, power-hungry aristocrat in the 18th-century-set Dangerous Liaisons, starring Close as his former lover, current sparring partner and predatory co-conspirator. The two are natural co-stars, playing off each other with ease and relish.

It’s surprising that it’s taken almost 30 years to reunite them on screen—let’s be grateful to Harris for correcting that, at least—though one wishes it were in a better film. Close has little do short of appearing concerned and thoughtful. Still, we can appreciate Malkovich as the frustrated actor constantly citing his awards, suppressing his jealousy and loving his ex-wife. The way his facial muscles tighten just slightly provides peerless comedy.

But in the end, the most curious thing about this movie is its traditional, middlebrow, celebratory view of marriages in general and first marriages in particular. (It’s intended to be comforting, though whether or not it scores is another story.) The genre, now updated, has been enjoying a comeback with such films as Maggie’s Plan, The Love Punch, It’s Complicated and most recently, I Do...Until I Don’t, an irritating flick on many fronts that purports to be a send-up of matrimony yet at its close can’t help but confirm its many (alleged) joys. Same for The Wilde Wedding. Nonetheless, Darling on bended knee proposing to Eve in front of a crowd—calculated to provoke tears in its collective audience—takes cringe-inducing to a whole new level.

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