It has been noted that one of the defining features of a play or musical, to determine whether or not it is a drama or a comedy, is whether or not it ends with a wedding. In case you haven’t figured it out, the comedies end with a wedding. Sometimes multiple weddings. One of the “big four” life events (the other three being: getting a job, buying a house, and having a child), a wedding should be full of joy and merriment. Sometimes those who attend a wedding take the joy and merriment to the extreme. At any rate, these feelings make for a “feel good” ending to any romantic comedy, which is why they are often seen as a cliché scene before the credits roll. This week’s two films are romantic comedies that have to do with weddings, be it a job performing at them or attending a multitude of them.
The Wedding Singer
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours
Despite most romantic comedies ending with a wedding, there are a rare few actually about planning and putting on a wedding. There are too many roles in wedding planning that often become cliché, but still garner laughs. There’s the intrusive mother-in-law, the panicked bride, the uncertain groom, the control-freak wedding planner, and the drunk uncle. The list goes on. However, one of the rare wedding positions is that of the Wedding Singer. Live music at a wedding has quickly become a thing of the past, but back when you had to hire a band to play at your wedding, you needed to include a singer so the guests would know what song is being played by the musicians. I’ve always been impressed with live musicians who can take requests, but even these members of a wedding’s cast of characters are looking for love themselves.
In 1985, Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is making a living singing at a reception hall that often is booked for weddings. While working there, he befriends one of the waitresses, Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore). As they are both engaged to other people, their friendship blossoms without the need to impress each other romantically. Unfortunately, Robbie’s fiancée, Linda (Angela Featherstone), is unpleased with his lack of drive to pursue a career as a rock star and leaves him standing at the altar. Furthermore, as Robbie gets to know Julia’s fiancé, Glenn (Matthew Glave), he finds out Glenn is not faithful to Julia, which causes him to punch Glenn in the face. After a misunderstanding with Linda, Julia decides to marry Glenn as soon as possible, which prompts Robbie to rush to the airport to clear up the situation and profess his love for her.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours
What’s interesting about Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) is that, while it contains many weddings during its plot, the end of the film doesn’t quite have the wedding you would expect. This is definitely not the norm. In fact, even Wedding Crashers (2005), a film about going to a lot of weddings, ended with both main characters getting married. Perhaps it was this deviation from a standard formula that earned Four Weddings and a Funeral its Best Picture nomination. Or perhaps it is that this film took it to the extreme and ended with six weddings, instead of the standard of one. At any rate, the comedy that surrounds weddings will always provide fodder for romantic comedies for years to come. After all, we’ve all been there, either at the altar or in the audience.
We all have that set of friends who seem to be in a lot of weddings, but never as the bride or groom. Charles (Hugh Grant) is no different. Over the course of four weddings and a funeral, he consistently runs across Carrie (Andie MacDowell), to whom he becomes quite attracted. After being the Best Man at the first wedding, he finds Carrie is engaged by the second wedding. The third wedding of the set is that of Carrie and Sir Hamish Banks (Corin Redgrave), which finds Charles quite depressed that Carrie is now off the market. During this wedding, one of the guests dies of a heart attack, thus initiating the one funeral in this otherwise happy set of occasions. The fourth wedding happens almost a year later as Charles is set to marry Henrietta (Anna Chancellor), but learns at the last minute that Carrie and Hamish are now divorced. Will he go through with this wedding, or will he pursue Carrie?
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 wonderful weddings