Wedding films are largely like Hallmark cards transferred to celluloid – saccharine piffle based around an institution that’s been progressively losing its relevance for centuries. But still, despite the existence of innumerable dire films like The Wedding Planner and My Best Friend’s Wedding, not every film involving marriage should be consigned a priori to the celluoid scrapheap – occasionally one comes along that manages to be both non-sentimental and amusing. And so, in our sole concession to the ongoing media hypefest that is the Royal Wedding, here’s a selection of our favorite nuptial films – the ones that don’t suck like a brand new turbo-charged Dyson.
Four Weddings and A Funeral(1994)
Apart from possibly the greatest foul-mouthed opening to a script ever, Four Weddings and a Funeral features a perfectly cast and eminently likeable pre-Divine Brown incident Hugh Grant in the lead role, along with excellent performances from everyone else involved, awkward English humor aplenty, and a vision of marriage that manages to be tender without ever drifting into being mawkish. The only thing we disliked about the film was that god-awful cover of “Love is All Around” by Wet Wet Wet, possibly the most appropriately-named band ever.
Father of the Bride (1950)
Not the Steve Martin remake – the Liz Taylor and Spencer Tracy original from 1950. Apart from being one of Taylor’s earliest roles, the film is both hilarious and, beneath the fluffy Hollywood veneer, surprisingly cynical about both the institution of marriage and the whole idea of the nuclear family that was so prevalent in 1950s America.
Muriel’s Wedding (1994)
Similarly, Muriel’s Wedding is a film that manages to be both bleak and funny, tracing the lives of a series of flawed and damaged characters in a way that’s amusing but never mean-spirited. It launched the US careers of Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths, and gave us a catchphrase for the ages: “You’re terrible, Muriel.”
The Princess Bride (1987)
If you didn’t see this in your formative years, then we fear that your childhood was sorely lacking. “In… con… ceivable!”
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Indian weddings are like the antithesis of Western weddings – they go for several days, don’t involve churches and getting hammered at the reception, and most of the time they’re actually fun. Bollywood loves a good wedding as much as the rest of the country, and there have been plenty of Indian wedding films that, even if they’re schmaltzy, are at least entertainingly so. But we’re plumping for Mira Nair’s Anglo-Indian extravaganza, which manages to blend serious elements into a plot that explores how Indian culture functions in the context of a global diaspora, and how a marriage can both bring people together and drive them apart.
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Flavorpill generally regards romantic comedies with the same suspicion you’d reserve for a large, venomous-looking spider that’s slowly making its way down your wall. But occasionally, a film comes along that fits the rom-com label and manages to make the genre’s clichés work. One such film is The Wedding Singer, which benefits hugely from the fact that it involves Drew Barrymore and a relatively restrained Adam Sandler, who enjoy such an unlikely chemistry that you find yourself actually caring whether they get together or not. Which, of course, they do. Eventually.
The Graduate (1967)
Admittedly, the wedding only plays a part in the last part of The Graduate, but still, it’s important enough to the plot that we reckon we can sneak this all-time great into the “wedding film” category. And the scene where Dustin Hoffman snatches Katharine Ross away from both a life of tedium and her domineering mother is one of cinema’s best cheer-out-loud moments.
La Cage aux Folles (1978)
A classic clash-of-cultures scenario, wherein the parents of a newly engaged couple meet for the first time with hilarious results, mainly because one set of parents is a pair of straight-laced conservative types, and the other set comprises a gay nightclub owner and a drag queen. Which, as you’d expect, presents challenges for all involved. Like Meet the Parents, but actually, y’know, good.
Divorce, pre-nuptial agreements and sham weddings… Leave it to the Coen brothers to produce a romantic comedy that’s shot through with satire and cynicism. The plot revolves around marriage and divorce, and specifically, the financial implications of both. It traces the romantic travails of a lawyer’s who’s drafted the perfect pre-nup and the predatory former wife of one of his clients. The whole thing’s as convoluted as it sounds, and yet it works a treat – it’s a shame, then, that it’s been somewhat overlooked in comparison to the Coens’ other films.
The Bride of Frankenstein(1935)
Hey, it’s a wedding film. And the Frankenstein monster is a far more likeable character than anyone played by Jennifer Lopez or Julia Roberts.