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Wedding Wars

Sony Pictures // Unrated // June 26, 2007
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted July 21, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The prospect of a decent made-for-television goofball comedy about gay marriage rights seems pretty darn far-fetched, right? Well, watch out for Jim Fall's Wedding Wars then, an A&E film featuring John Stamos and Eric Dale. Treading gently into this flick was a lot like waltzing in front of a firing squad in anticipation of sharp pain. Imagine my surprise when Wedding Wars turned out to be more enjoyably amusing and thoughtfully natural than anticipated.

The Film:

Political speech writer Ben Grandy (Eric Dale) and his bride to be Maggie (Bonnie Sommerville), daughter of the congressman Ben writes for, are in a bit of a pickle. After searching for and deliberating about a wedding planner, the two finally agree on asking Ben's party planning brother, Shel (John Stamos), to design their dream ceremony. Trouble brews, however; the fact that Shel is gay happens to be a source of discomfort for the average blunt-headed Ben. However, his wife-to-be helps Ben stomach this down and see this wedding as a great opportunity to help rebuild the brothers' relationship.

With a political campaign in hindsight and the wedding date drawing closer, gay marriage erupts as a source of debate in the congressman's (James Brolin) portfolio. Once word reaches Shel about his brother's strongly written congressional speech outlawing a gay union under law due to "tradition", his discomfort with his family's awareness of his lifestyle leads him to put down his datebook and fabric swatches. In a swirl of champagne-infused angst, Shel officially goes on strike from planning the Grandy wedding. There's an unexpected momemtum that picks up, however, as the country sees what Shel is striking for and decides to ... follow suit?

Try to keep a sheepish grin off your face after hearing Stamos of Full House and ER fame is in a TV movie where he, as a wedding coordinator, and the rest of the gay population across America drop everything and go on strike. It's much more of a challenge than any kind of deterrent to see how Stamos holds his own in such an antithetic persona. Is this something he and the rest of the cast of Wedding Wars can pull off?

Well, prepare to be a bit on the impressed side.

A few pivotal strengths start to come out of the woodwork that turns this wavering perception into pleasant surprise. For one, Wedding Wars sports a much tighter script than most television flicks. At times, it's almost as if inherently cheesy and downplayed dialogue is a pre-requisite for television movies. This is a film, however, that flamboyantly dances and cohabitates amidst these "required" weaker moments. At times, where an obvious eye-roller of a line seems eminently set up, something with a bit more realism and believability pops up from Wedding Wars' comedic timing. Most scenes feel natural ... you know, in an overplayed way. That's not to say the script and direction don't share a few weaker points, such as the mild, trivializing simplification of the "average" gay jobs. It's a tongue in cheek film that can be just a little too tongue and cheek at times.

Besides a lot of the typical goofy quirks that ooze from all nickel-and-dime television films, however, Wedding Wars holds itself together with an unexpectedly cohesive center. Sure, this is a film about serious familial issues and the rights of all individuals to share opportunity. However, this little flick is a safe, pleasantly amusing romantic comedy that wiggles in just a small dash of food for thought. Holding this light poise without getting on too big of a soapbox is definitely Wedding Wars' strongest asset. Instead, we're treated to sibling warfare, peaceful strikes, and punchy little quips like sucker punches across the board. And, afterwards, the lightly addressed issues linger for a spell.

Each character tangled in these sketch-level scenario shares stereotypes that make themselves stick out like sore thumbs, whether it be from Stamos's convincingly tangible performance as Shel or the overly blunt blockheadedness tossed out from Eric Dane as his brother. Parrying between both can get a shade monotonous and unexciting, however - probably because they work best in their scenes individually. Stamos holds his own quite admirably as the not so flamboyant Shel, though his transformation into a blooming political activist feels rushed and a bit forced. There's definite exaggeration and overreaching from all parties, but it's still adherent to the film's amusing tone.

Wedding Wars is clever fun draped atop a simplified, important message. There are just enough well done parts to make you forget about a lot of the negatives. Don't go in expecting a fresh, moving film about gay marriage rights, however. Instead, try to absorb a misting of purpose from this small scale story tailor-made to slap an airy-minded, humored grin across your face.

The DVD:

Sony sends Wedding Wars our way from A&E in a standard keepcase DVD with decent discart.

The Video:

Enhanced for widescreen televisions, Wedding Wars' visual style isn't something that screams in a gaudy and flaring fashion. It's a simple movie that reflects its television budget and source quite well. With that in mind, I was pretty impressed at the clarity and sharpness from this visual presentation. Not necessarily in the gloss of the film itself, but there's a lot of green from the ever-present grass and foliage. Every ounce appears quite lush and vibrant to the eyes. As with the rest of the colors across the board, everything was very well represented. There's nothing to marvel at, but Wedding Wars looks pretty decent.

The Audio:

Presented in a pretty standard Dolby 5-1-that's-more-like-Stereo track, nothing really receives marks in either the positive or negative column with this. Voices were moderately clean and audible, but there was practically no channel separation. However, everything echoing across the room from the speakers sounded just fine without any noticeable hiccups. Wedding Wars' aural presentation is very typical fare. Subtitles are available in English and French.

The Extras:

Aside from Previews for Catch and Release, Waiting For Happiness, The Holiday, The Wedding Planner, and Norma Lear TV, there's only one other feature.

- The Truth Behind Wedding Wars -
Instead of reflecting on a similar event or anything relevant to historical influence or the like, this portion is around 8 and a half minutes of gleeful fluff that boasts the performances across the board. There's nothing terribly insightful through this, though hearing about the filmmakers' comfort with a gay marriage comedy is great to hear. Don't expect correlative history or anything similar.


Final Thoughts:

Wedding Wars is a moderately solid comedic production. It's nowhere near hard hitting, keeps its heart dangling on its sleeve, and maintains a very charming nature throughout its slightly political keel. With strong, albeit caricatured, performances across the board and some smarter lines than expected, Wedding Wars makes it worth a look either when it pops on A&E or purely as a Rental since the repeat viewing quality probably isn't terribly high.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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