Synopsis – While trying to make his sister’s wedding day go smoothly, Jack finds himself juggling an angry ex-girlfriend, an uninvited guest with a secret, a misplaced sleep sedative, and the girl that got away in alternate versions of the same day.
My Take – While romantic comedies seem to have been going bust over the last decade or so, Netflix, who continue to have a history of making films which are quite obverse in nature, got the genre ticking again with back to back success of films like The Kissing Booth, All of the Boys I’ve Beloved Before, Set It Up and Always Be My Maybe, among many others, hereby breathing life into the formerly known as the most comfortably successful genre.
Hence there were a certain expectations from their latest, an adaptation of a 2012 French film called Plan de table, which also marked the directorial debut of Dean Craig, known for writing the excellent British comedy Death at a Funeral (2007) as well as it’s not so good 2010 American remake.
With a familiar wedding setting akin to his own written films and filmmaker Richard Curtis’ Four Wedding and a Funeral (1994), the film clearly aimed to invite viewers to muse on fate, chance and true love, and even throws in a twist for a little treat, in the veins of Groundhog Day (1993) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), while even playing on its marketing title Live Die Repeat.
Sadly, Netflix’s newest rom-com just happens to be simply too cringe filled to make it enjoyable and even fails to sail on its premise of a number of alternate timelines. Though the film starts off promisingly, it quickly deteriorates into juvenile farce and even for its 100 minute run time, just feels too long.
The overall story of the wedding just becomes a backdrop for some clichéd and ludicrous humor that, admittedly, is initially funny but quickly becomes tiresome to the point of embarrassing. Disappointingly despite the really likeable cast this is certainly one of Netflix’s avoidable originals.
The story follows Jack (Sam Claflin), who after spending an excellent weekend in the town with Dina (Olivia Munn), an American war reporter, and friend of his sister Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson), fails agonizingly short of kissing her and expressing his feelings. However, three years later, at Hayley’s wedding, Jack is surprised by the news that the newly-single Dina, whom he has spent every moment since pining for, is able to attend the event in Rome after all.
But since Hayley is the only family he has got, Jack is determined to make sure his sister has a perfect day. Though everything seems lovely at first, it quickly begins to spiral with the arrival of the uninvited Marc (Jack Farthing), a coked-up former flame who is determined to confess his feelings for the bride and destroy the brand-new marriage. Stressed from planning the wedding, Hayley happens to have a strong sleeping medication on her, and all she needs for Jack is to slip it into Mark’s drink and let the day pass.
While he reluctantly agrees to and carries it out based on the sitting arrangement, little does he know that a group of children are going to play with the seating plan at his table by mixing up the names, forcing him to sit next to his intolerable ex-girlfriend Amanda (Freida Pinto), instead of her insecure new boyfriend Chaz (Allan Mustafa), placing Dina next to the Sidney (Tim Key), an incredible dull car insurance associate, and Bryan (Joel Fry), the Maid of Honor and an actor by profession, taking up Marc’s seat and drink. Thus leading to a massive chaos of sorts.
As the wedding falls apart, the action abruptly stops and we are treated to alternate versions of the same day unfolding, all based around the interplay between chance and fate and love. Of course, there’s plenty of hi jinx physical comedy and awkwardness too, but still a great concept for a silly rom-com, but the film doesn’t quite manage to get out of third gear.
While we are encouraged to accept the silliness and overlook irregularities and little plot holes considering the genre, but almost nothing of substance happens in here, the moral of which seems to boil down to “sometimes fate smiles, and sometimes it’s just out to get you, and there’s very little you can do about it.” There’s something of a statement about not allowing grief and regret to stand in the way of love, but it takes a backseat to the film’s more slapstick elements.
The film’s major problem here is that director Craig has no sense of pacing whatsoever, as this may be the most meandering, plodding farce I’ve ever seen, and doesn’t make any move until it reaches the 50min mark, a long time to kill with just slapstick.
The film also ends up taking the repetitive theme from its title and applying it to everything. So the same one-note jokes are repeated for comic effect. For example, Chaz is obsessed with the size of Jack’s genitalia, and brings this up what seems like a million times, utterly pointlessly, throughout the film. Then there’s the almost-riff on the fact that the Maid of Honor, Bryan, is a man!
Although the stage for the film to discover any variety of these eight timelines, Craig’s film solely briefly reveals six of them in a montage, selecting to focus as a substitute on two foremost sequence of occasions. The primary is what would occur if the maid/man of honor Bryan have been to drink the sedative and the opposite is that if Jack did, ostensibly showcasing the worst timeline and the very best. And even as the film hobbles into a third act that turns all its earlier mishaps into a race for happily-ever-after, it can’t quite make up for the lackluster journey to get there.
It’s hard to care if Hayley’s wedding is saved, or if Bryan gets his big break, or even if Dina and Jack seize their moment this time around when nothing leading up to any of this paint-by-numbers resolution has inspired much of anything along the way.
Granted, for a throwaway Netflix offering), you could do a lot worse, but you could also do a whole lot better. That it works even marginally is due entirely to a splendid cast headlined by Sam Claflin who is required to channel his best Hugh Grant impression, and makes for good lead. Eleanor Tomlinson too is immensely likable even if the script doesn’t allow her to be particularly funny.
Olivia Munn doesn’t really do much except look radiant, which she excels at, while Jack Farthing is compelling as drugged up Marc. Aisling Bea and Joel Fry excel in their over the top antics, so does Tim Key to an extent, Freida Pinto and Allan Mustafa are sorely underused. On the whole, ‘Love Wedding Repeat’ is a cringe worthy rom com that fails to use its potentially excellent premise.
Directed – Dean Craig
Rated – R
Run Time – 100 minutes