5 best wedding movies
LOS ANGELES— There’s no shortage of movies about weddings, and most of them are pretty lame.
They usually feature the most stereotypical depictions of women being neurotic, naggy, insecure or all of the above, they’re crammed with corny slapstick, and they frequently culminate with a mad dash to an airport or train station for some breathless, last-minute I-love-yous.
But not all wedding movies are steeped in the worst rom-com cliches. Some have brains and wit and even a bit of innovation. So with “Something Borrowed” and “Jumping the Broom” opening this week and “Bridesmaids” coming out next week, here are five flicks about nuptials that will actually make you want to say “I do.”
“The Philadelphia Story” (1940): Pretty much THE classic romantic comedy or at least it has to feature prominently in any conversation about the best of the genre.
The players are all at the top of their game in George Cukor’s Oscar-winner based on the Philip Barry play. Katharine Hepburn is lively and radiant and not at all box-office poison as socialite Tracy Lord, who’s on the verge of remarrying. But then her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a magazine reporter (Jimmy Stewart) show up just before the ceremony, and all the classy plans get thrown out of whack. It’s an affectionate look at the affectations of high society, and the very definition of snappy banter.
“The Princess Bride” (1987): A screwball fairy tale with an excellent cast, clever details and great energy and heart. And it’s easily one of the best films Rob Reiner’s directed up there with “This is Spinal Tap.
” Peter Falk reads his grandson (a young Fred Savage) a story about princes, swordfights, pirates, rats and, ultimately, true love. The beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright) is about to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), whom she doesn’t love. Her heart still belongs to Westley (Cary Elwes), whom she thinks is dead. But on the eve of her wedding, guess who kidnaps her? Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn all get classic lines, but Peter Cook as a clergyman with a speech impediment says the word “marriage” in a way that still cracks me up all these years later.
“Muriel’s Wedding” (1994): A little-known Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths, both in their first major movie roles, have a delightful chemistry in this Australian charmer about female friendship and ABBA worship.
Collette stars as Muriel Heslop, a gawky, hopeless romantic who languishes in suburban misery and dreams of the day she’ll walk down the aisle. Trouble is, she’s never even had a date. But then she meets Griffiths’ character, Rhonda, the firecracker who lifts her out of her doldrums and becomes her one true pal.
Writer-director P.J. Hogan’s film is sweet, funny, heartbreaking and so very honest. (Three years later, Hogan would go on to make “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” which features several of the conventions we mentioned at the start.)
“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” (2005): A marriage of painstaking stop-motion animation and digital technology that’s every inch a Tim Burton movie: wondrous, strange, poignant, and beautifully reflective of the director’s distinctive, darkly humorous style.
With an all-star voice cast led by Burton regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, the film follows the romantic troubles of a shy young man torn between the woman his parents have arranged for him to marry and the woman who rises from the Land of the Dead and accidentally becomes his wife.
The music from Burton’s longtime collaborator Danny Elfman adds just the right lively tone to such gleefully macabre material.
“Wedding Crashers” (2005): In looking at marriage from the male perspective, this bold and bawdy comedy comes from an inspired premise: Two guys crash weddings to pick up bridesmaids and partake in the free food and drink.
And it’s hard to resist the chemistry of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, who bring a subversive energy to the movie that often makes it feel improvised. It’s a complete blast for about the first hour, hour and a half, with a great cast (Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, Christopher Walken, Isla Fisher), wickedly raunchy humor and pacing that leaves you breathless. With a running time just under two hours, you may feel like you’ve stayed at the party a bit too long, but you’ll still be glad you went.
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