America's Funniest Home Videos - Love & Marriage is no more or less than what it purports to be. This Shout! Factory release offers two one-hour episodes (actually 39 minutes apiece) of the long-running ABC series, one a special show focusing on all phases of wedding ceremonies and receptions, the other a season-ending extravaganza with a $100,000 Grand Prize up for grabs.
Shout! Factory and/or ABC don't seem to be able to get a handle on how best to market this series. Last summer they released the first half of the 2001 season, 12 shows with an SRP of $39.98, but have since apparently dropped plans to release additional episodes in any kind of complete or broadcast order. Last December's The Best of Kids & Animals featured five episodes (of which one was a two-hour special) at $29.98, while Home for the Holidays offered three shows for $14.98.
By contrast these latest releases offer just two episodes (running just 78 minutes in all) for $9.98, in this case a show called "Matrimony Mania" and a $100,000 season finale. These best-of compilations seem like a good idea but have one big drawback: repetition. Many of the clips featured on these two shows have already appeared (in some cases multiple times) in other Shout! Factory / AFV compilations.
Still, "Matrimony Mania" has a lot of laughs, with all manner of wedding-from-Hell disasters that must be seen to be believed, from a ceremony interrupted by angry kangaroos to a mass fainting montage immortalized (at least until ABC's lawyers have it taken down) on YouTube.
Some of these incidents, from wild marriage proposals to receptions-gone-wrong, are so amusing that a team of professional comedy writers would be hard-pressed to come up with funnier material, from the angry wife who beats up her husband after he catches the garter and gets a little too enthusiastic with the new bride, to the unexpected recipient of the wedding bouquet toss - a nun. And one church organist's hilariously bad performance of Mendelssohn's Wedding March makes Edith Bunker seem like a virtuoso by comparison.
The $100,000 show is more of the usual stuff: inept jugglers, stupid skateboarders, a singing dog. Highlights (if that's the word) include an apoplectic sports fan way too emotionally involved with the game on TV, a sneaky Santa undone by a flight of steps, and the important lesson offered by the unfortunate owners of a Jeep who forgot to put their car into Park: it sails down a seemingly endless cliffside in a clip worthy of Wile E. Coyote.
Video & Audio
America's Funniest Home Videos - Love & Marriage is presented in its original full-frame format, and both shows are up to the technical standards of their day. There are no alternate audio or subtitle options, but the program is close-captioned. Likewise, there are no Extra Features
America's Funniest Home Videos - Love & Marriage would be great fun (and instructional) for prospective brides and grooms, and is breezy innocuous entertainment for everyone else. Recommended.
Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian who did not faint on his wedding day.