Screen Jeers: ‘Love, Wedding, Marriage’

Dan: I am not what you would call a fan of chick flicks. For one thing, I am not a chick. However, I can get plenty of enjoyment and entertainment from a well-told and legitimately intriguing love story. Which brings me to thing no. 2: The majority of chick flicks have neither a well-told nor a legitimately intriguing love story. More often, I have found, they are 90 minutes of (incorrect) stereotypes and convoluted nonsense that centers around a romance that is usually either completely unrealistic or asinine.

Case in point, this week’s movie: “Love, Wedding, Marriage.” It focuses on a family psychologist named Ava, played by Mandy Moore, who is trying to fix the ailing marriage of her parents (James Brolin and Jane Seymour). While all this is going on, she also has to juggle troubles in her own recent marriage, as she learns after the fact that her husband, Charlie (Kellan Lutz, who also appears in the “Twilight” movies), had a drunken Vegas wedding before the two had met. Through a whole lot of meddling, her parents end up back together, Ava apologizes for almost submarining her marriage, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Maybe it’s just me being out of the target audience, but I felt this movie was completely out of touch with how relationships actually work. Caryn, what’s your take?

Caryn: If I were ever having marital trouble, I would not go to Mandy Moore for advice. The partnership she had with her husband in the beginning of the movie was sweet, but Mandy Moore’s character, Ava, got progressively worse and more annoying as the movie dragged on.

Ava was thrilled to learn that her husband’s friend had a whirlwind courtship and got married to a woman who barely spoke English. She declared, “There are five love languages, and they’re all nonverbal.” For anyone who has ever read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, you know that one of the five love languages is “Words of Affirmation.” That doesn’t seem nonverbal to me.

The characters in the movie continued to spout blanket generalizations about the state of marriage and relationships, and even more gross generalities were implied through the characters’ actions. All men cheat! All wives nag their husbands! The only thing that will improve a marriage for a man is more sex! For as much as relationships were put under a microscope, I don’t think I heard the words “communication” or “trust” once in the entire movie.

Dan: The movie actually seems to shy away from any moments where it can talk about serious marriage issues. We get to see several scenes involving marriage counseling and different ways couples can deal with their issues. And at every opportunity to actually start talking about things, the movie decides to get silly.

And I get it: This is a rom-com. It’s supposed to be more light-hearted and funny. I can accept that … if any part of the movie were actually funny. Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown from “Back to the Future”!) plays Ava’s parents’ counselor, who is a little unorthodox in his methods. Clearly, this was intended to be a comedic role, and Lloyd is definitely capable of that kind of character. But he spends something like 2 minutes having everyone just jump around his office and utters nothing but bland nonsense that, though it’s supposed to come from the mind of some kind of mad genius, sounds like it’s coming from a homeless guy’s incoherent rambles.

Caryn: The conflict at the core of the movie was completely inconsequential. Ava, an independent woman who was married, with a career, living outside of her parents’ house, was completely beside herself to know they were divorcing after 30 years of marriage. Really? She needed to get over it. All of Ava’s mishaps in getting her parents back together would not have existed had she minded her own business and resolved within herself that her parents were separating.

As for the matter of Ava being wound up about her husband’s Vegas marriage? She could get over that, too, especially since it was in his past and he took care of it long before they were married. She could have had a scene straight from “Jane Eyre,” when Mr. Rochester has a still-living crazy wife that he kept locked in his attic. Instead, she whined something about wanting to be the only woman her husband wanted to marry in his life. Yeah, sometimes life doesn’t work that way. Give me a break.

Dan: Maybe the worst part is that Ava’s incessant meddling actually works out. After providing her father with some of her husband’s sleeping pills, she dumps the rest of the bottle down the toilet and calls 911 saying her dad might have attempted suicide. It’s all a ploy to panic her mom back into a relationship with her dad. This strategy — which wasted the surely valuable time of the paramedics, doctors and nurses and would never in a million years actually spark any romantic feelings that wouldn’t last more than maybe a week — ends up being the thing that gets the two back together!

But it’s not just in the realm of relationship guidance that this movie falls way short. It fails to provide even one interesting character. They’re all as one-dimensional as the life advice they give. The dad is Jewish! The sister is promiscuous! The friend is comic relief! It got really boring following these people for even 30 minutes, much less the full 90 of the film.

Caryn: Instead of “Love Wedding Marriage,” this film might as well have been called “Pretty people run around” because that’s all it really was. None of the characters connected on an even remotely meaningful level. Sure, if you want to sit back and shut off your brain and watch a movie for an hour and a half, watch this movie.

If you want to see a meaningful love story, watch something else. Any suggestions?

Dan: There are some legitimately good romantic comedies out there. “When Harry Met Sally” jumps immediately to mind. And for some good, sappy romance, why not go the “Princess Bride” route? That movie is all at once hilarious, light-hearted, tragic and wonderful, all while being centered around a legitimate and moving love story.

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