The Wedding Party

| June 14, 2017

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far into the review without talking about the gimmick.  The Wedding Party is filmed in one shot in one take.  An impressive feat to be sure.  You may have noticed an increase in similar long, one-shots lately.  Marvel Studios has been working them into some of their movies and TV shows like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and of course Daredevil on Netflix.  These are the result of a new technology that allows filmmakers to splice together different takes to make them look like they’re part of a single take.  Birdman starring Michael Keaton is another good example of this and the technique can be thematically rich and make for a brilliant final product.  As far as I know, The Wedding Party did not use this technology, but rather is an honest to God single shot that lasts 2 hours, which is great and I can’t imagine the logistics of pulling something like that off, but it is dissimilar from the rest of the above examples who manufacture their one-shots because the format has very little purpose in the story being told.  An argument can be made that it’s a metaphor for the chaos of throwing a wedding, and the precision of the filmmaking style is an ironic commentary on the unpredictability a wedding can demand, but I feel like that’s a stretch and the writer/director (Thane Economou) just wanted to see if he could do it.

As an exercise in directing a film, it’s great.  As a film overall, there are definitely a few shortcomings.  The story is about Paul (Joel Johnstone; The Newsroom) and Margene’s (Meg Cionni) wedding, but is really about the couple’s various groomsmen and bridesmaids.  The main character is Jim (Blake Lee; Parks and Recreation), who has recently been dumped and finds himself paired with his high school crush Alex (Allison Paige; Days of Our Lives).  The two of them try to keep the wedding on track after the maid of honor gets wasted on Xanax and everyone else gets swept up in their own drama.

As technically impressive as the film is, the story and characters just ruin everything.  Like Avatar.  I will say that I found it easy to track everyone’s arc through the movie and what they wanted, but I’ll also say that I didn’t care what any of them wanted.  Jim is a bitter crybaby who passive aggressively makes comments about how he wishes he was the best man over Paul’s brother Colt (Brian Thomas Smith; The Big Bang Theory), and has this whole sense of entitlement when it comes to the Alex character; like she owes him for getting bored with him at prom and dancing with someone else.  Colt is an idiot, floating through the movie with nothing to motivate him other than trying to get the bride’s ring off his finger.  Paul and Margene start fighting 30 minutes into their marriage.  Then there’s Skyler (Moses Green), who I swear has a different story arc every time he shows up in the movie.  First he wants to hook up with a girl from his high school French class, then he’s debating whether to get involved with a married woman in an open relationship, then he’s testing if rice actually cause birds to explode, then he’s helping another bridesmaid make her boyfriend jealous.  It’s a nightmare, but worse than him is the Bethanie character (Ziah Colon) who does absolutely nothing in the film except pine for Skyler and whine about how she thinks he’s so great and all this nonsense.  It’s difficult for me to watch any character reduced to a single trait, let alone a female character of color.

Available now on DVD from Candy Factory Films.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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