If you had a computer analyze every bad wedding-themed romantic-comedy and then spit out a screenplay based on what it learned, you'd probably have something like The Wedding Year. Within just a few minutes, the movie establishes that it's going to be artificial, predictable, and shallow – and then it proceeds to follow through on that promise. No other film this year has seemed so lazy.
Sarah Hyland plays Mara, a commitment-phobic young woman who works in a boutique store. She begins dating aspiring chef Jake (Tyler James Williams) and, in an extremely implausible coincidence, they suddenly get invited to dozens of weddings. Sifting through the invites, the couple decides to attend seven of them over the course of the next twelve months. This is difficult for Mara, because it means agreeing to stick with Jake for that long. You can doubtlessly guess what happens from here.
The Wedding Year has a premise but no plot. Once that premise is established, the movie shows us the young lovers attending rehearsal dinners, nuptials, and receptions. It mistakes this series of events for a story, which it most certainly is not, given that the scenes serve no purpose aside from granting the characters an opportunity to engage in obnoxiously quirky behavior. At one point, they make loud sarcastic remarks during a church wedding, causing other guests to repeatedly shush them. We've only see that, what, a million times?
Similarly, the film mistakes such contrived quirkiness for character development. Everyone in The Wedding Year is “colorful” in ways that would make you run screaming if you met these people in real life. They're all bad, but Mara is the worst. Does she get drunk and challenge Jake's ex to a “dance-off” at a wedding? Yes. Does she vomit into a champagne bucket? Uh-huh. Does she give an embarrassingly awkward matron of honor speech at another? You bet. Let's not even get to the part where Mara and Jake try to bring back the runaway bride of his best friend. All of this forced wackiness makes it impossible to take the movie seriously when it suddenly tries to say something serious about relationships in the third act.
The Wedding Year was directed by Robert Luketic, whose Legally Blonde is one of the best rom-coms of the 2000s. Granted, Donald Diego's script gives him little to work with, but the choice to advance things with endless music montages was a poor choice. There's even the requisite “trying on funny clothes” montage that was hackneyed by the '90s. If you took out all the montages here, the film would be half as long.
There are many likable performers in The Wedding Year, including Keith David and Wanda Sykes as Jake's parents, Anna Camp as Mara's boss, and Jenna Dewan as her sister. None of them can even remotely save the movie from itself. Everything in this picture has been recycled from other rom-coms – including the stereotypical “gay best friend” character -- and the incessant kookiness of the individuals we follow is off-putting.
Anyone in the mood for a wedding-related comedy is better off just revisiting My Best Friend's Wedding or Four Weddings and a Funeral one more time.
out of four
The Wedding Year is rated R for language, some sexual content, and drug/alcohol use. The running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes.