Calendar Girls. Rufus Hound. Weddings. Any of our readers still with me? Those of you who haven’t zipped off to the comments section to decry the mere mention of a zombie-less, alien-less, Jason Statham-less flick on this site might want to know that The Wedding Video isn’t anything like as ropey as it sounds. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable. No Four Weddings And a Funeral, certainly, but a hair better than 2006’s Confetti, say.
Just as the horror genre is tiring of the found-footage conceit, along comes a Brit comedy to dust it off and have a go. The latest release from Calendar Girls team Nigel Cole and Tim Firth casts comedian Rufus Hound as a best man-cum-wedding-videographer from whose camera unfurls this lightly satirical rom-com. The POV trick recalls Peep Show and the sardonic voiceover for The Inbetweeners, and though The Wedding Video doesn’t match the best of either of those shows, it’s not a million miles away.
On the topic of The Inbetweeners, Nigel Cole’s latest is being released in the same slot as last year’s madly successful movie version, and while The Wedding Video isn’t headed for similar surprise blockbuster status, as a frothy UK rom-com with a cracking comic turn by Proper Serious Actress Harriet Walter, it more than merits a friendly reception.
The last time I saw Harriet Walter she was rubbing herself against Jean Luc Picard in an RSC production of Antony and Cleopatra. Showing off some of that infinite variety in The Wedding Video, Walter plays a nouveau riche mother-of-the-bride fighting to win an Olympic-sized battle of keeping up with the Joneses, and in the process, steals every bit of the film that Miriam Margoyles (as her dragon of a mother) hasn’t already pocketed.
Imagine Hyacinth Bucket armed with the bank balance of a WAG and the scope for vulgarity afforded by the modern wedding industry (stately homes, ice sculptures, a menagerie of creatures to bear brides, rings, and be loosed upon the congregation…) and you’ve imagined Walter’s character. Except, not quite. Because Walter’s deft performance makes the awful mum caricature sympathetic. She can’t help it. She’s just that good at her job.
The same goes for Margoyles, though as an acid-tongued grand dame, she’s given neither the goal nor screen-time to venture beyond acerbic snob. The bride herself, played by Lucy Punch, is made of similarly great stuff, though she’s as eclipsed in the film by Walter as her character Saskia is by overbearing mother Alex.
The surprise of it all, it must be said, is Rufus Hound, who’s winsome as juvenile and sentimental Raif, brother to the groom (Robert Webb) and former classmate of the bride. Hound proves himself capable of manning the central role and keeping The Wedding Video’s light comedy bubbling along, only coming off a bit school play when the boilerplate romantic narrative kicks in. Even so, he’s banked enough goodwill up until that point to carry him, if not exactly sailing through, then chopping along nicely.
Taking your male leads from the ‘victorious BBC Sport Relief drag dance acts and voiceover guys’ section of the celebrity supermarket might not seem like a winning move, but Robert Webb is at home with this kind of material, and does similarly well as the straight-man Mark Corrigan to Hound’s free-spirited, soppy Jez.
The plot sees Raif, recently returned from travelling overseas, show up to chronicle the weeks preceding his brother’s posh Cheshire wedding to a reformed wild child. Cue a mostly harmless satire of the excesses of modern weddings and upper middle class one-upmanship wrapped in a by-the-numbers love story. The script doesn’t always sparkle, but the cast is likeable enough to sell much of it, and there are at least a handful of genuinely decent gags.
A welcome raft of other familiar comedy faces pop up during proceedings, including Green Wing’s Michelle Gomez as an unhinged Michelle Gomez-style wedding planner, Matt Berry as a Matt Berry-style friend of Raif’s, and Kevin Eldon as a Kevin Eldon-style wine-merchant.
The Wedding Video may not break new ground, but nor does it promise to. It’s one of those comfortingly, recognisably British light comedies that does no harm, delivers a good few laughs, and boasts one or two pleasant surprises in its cast. If you’ve read this far, then why not give it a chance?
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