Given that Britain has some pedigree in making wedding comedies, it’s perhaps unsurprising that this Australian take on the genre – not forgetting that the surprisingly melancholy Muriel’s Wedding heralded from Oz – has imported some English talent to head up its cast. A Few Best Men thus brings in Kris Marshall and Kevin Bishop as Tom and Graham, two of the best men to soon-to-be-married David (Xavier Samuel). On paper, a male Bridesmaids, then.
The basic premise is that David is marrying Mia, and pretty much everything goes wrong. Nothing fresh there. In this particular case, the chaos surrounds the bride’s father and his political ambitions for his daughter, a sheep, a collection of drugs, and the, er, ‘behaviour’ of the best men in question. Given that the romance at the heart of the film is a whirlwind one, the bride has never really met the best men before. An hour into the movie, she clearly wishes that had stayed unchanged.
That said, if you’re thinking that A Few Best Men is the kind of film whose narrative you can see coming a distance away, then your suspicions will not have gone away by the time the credits have rolled. There’s no modern subversion here. If anything, it’s a typical wedding comedy with some added gross-out humour.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to like here. The movie is from Stephan Elliott, whose biggest comedy success to date is Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. Elliott is skilled at mining laughs from familiar situations here, and A Few Best Men scores surprisingly well on the chuckle count.
What’s more, it also has a trump card of sorts in the shape of Olivia Newton-John (she’s not singing, but she does knock a drink or two back). It’s rare to see her on the big screen, and she’s clearly having a lot of fun here.
As are Bishop and Marshall. Appreciating that they end up in some contrived situations that test the patience just a little (the whole drugs sub-plot in particular doesn’t seem to add a great deal at all), they make a strong screen pairing, and the duo are good value here. Xavier Samuel, in the more serious central role, is a good lead, too, along with Laura Brent, playing his bride. More often than not, though, it’s Jonathan Biggins, as her father, who comes in and steals the most scenes. Him, or his beloved sheep. It’s rarely a bad thing to put an animal in the middle of a wedding comedy, and that decision is rewarded again here.
There’s nothing radical in A Few Best Man, and no attempt to shake up, subvert or add much to a genre that you could kindly describe as saturated. So that basically leaves one question: is A Few Best Men worth 90 minutes of your time? Provided you don’t have a natural aversion to films of this ilk, it just about is. It takes a while to get into any kind of flow, and it feels really quite uneven at times. But it’s fun, quite funny, and a decent, solid entry to the genre. It’s good to see Stephan Elliott back directing a comedy again, too.
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