Thursday, November 17, 2022

The People We Hate at the Wedding: Movie Review

Funny chaos leads to a more typical family dramedy.
The People We Hate at the Wedding are the embarrassing uncouth Americans at an upscale posh British wedding, and one thing that the film does well (at least at the beginning) is play with sympathies for protagonists vs antagonists. As an audience we’re programmed to hate the rich snobs and feel sorry for the messy people who just can’t help but make mistakes in their life, and there were a few times this film makes you question that.   2022

Directed by: Claire Scanlon

Screenplay by: Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, Wendy Molyneux
Based on the book by Grant Ginder

Starring: Kristen Bell, Ben Platt, Allison Janney, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson

I’m not sure if these characters deserve the neat and tidy ending that happy family rom-coms always get, but I did enjoy their ups and downs to get there. There’s an effective narrator at the beginning who quickly establishes the family dynamics in play; it’s worthwhile because there are some really well crafted characters in this movie.

Allison Janney is the once-divorced and once-widowed matriarch of Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), she’s the rich, spoiled British elite sibling from the first husband and Paul (Ben Platt) and Alice (Kristen Bell) who are the angry, boorish and crass Americans from the second husband. They all have their storylines but I’m not sure the writers understand what they have on their hands with Kristen Bell’s Alice - a thoroughly enjoyable, sarcastic as all hell, very messy person throwing her life away who is smart enough to recognize what she’s doing before she even does it, but still does it anyways. And to top that off her love interest is none other than Schitt’s Creek’s Dustin Milligan who is hilarious and confident in a very self-deprecating kind of way who is also smart enough to recognize that he is way too good for Alice but lets her use him anyway. The entire movie should just be the two of them – there are that many layers to Bell’s onion of a character, each of them hilarious or heartbreaking or both. Every scene that she’s not in is just an empty scene where I’m plotting what stupid or funny thing she’s going to do next.

I don’t mean to erase the other characters, especially Ben Platt’s Paul who is equally disastrous and does just as much as Alice does to destroy Eloise’s upcoming wedding. There’s a lot of comedy here, so it is a very enjoyable movie and I’ll give you a few tidbits: Alice pretending her current boyfriend(ish) is a rabbit, Paul not wanting to have a threesome but goes for it anyway, Paul peeing on the father of the bride (on purpose), Alice being chased around a wedding table by a jilted acquaintance, and her mother calmly asking her to not do that.

All of this fun, funny chaos leads to a very typical happy family dramedy ending. If we’re cheering for these broken people then we probably should see them clean their lives up and get a happily ever after, but I liked The People We Hate at the Wedding more when it makes us question that we probably shouldn’t be cheering for these very broken people.