Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding
by Laura Tucker
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Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding holds the record for the longest running off-Broadway show, at twenty years and running. The show is uniquely interactive, as while it showcases a wedding and reception, the audience are infiltrated in as guests, leading to lots of fun by the actors and actresses as they incorporate the guests into their parts, such as the drunk priest hitting on the women, and the bride’s mother coming by to tell you why she hates the groom’s family so much. With all the success, it was decided to turn the story into a motion picture.
There exists a huge, blinking warning sign with the release of the Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding film. It was filmed in 2004. Why wait nearly four years to release it? In addition, the release isn’t going to be a full release, but will instead be turning the film into something of a cult phenomenon, or at least it will attempt to. With news the film will be shown only on Friday and Saturday nights at midnight, and that engaged couples are encouraged to appear and legally tie the knot along with Tony and Tina, it appears they’re searching for some type of Rocky Horror Picture Show attention.
With that knowledge, it should be noted that Rocky Horror Picture Show would not have been a good movie without the newspapers, squirt bottles, umbrellas, toast, and sing-alongs. Likewise, the success of Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding has always been because of the participation of the audience. While having engaged couples tying the knot in the aisles might add some flavor to the film, it’s doubtful it will do as much as the interactive feeling of the off-Broadway show.
Sitting down to watch an advance copy of the film, it backed up my suspicions. It should be noted it wasn’t midnight, and I didn’t have anyone wearing a gown or tux in my living room; however, it still seemed to lose much of the magic of the original live show. I enjoyed the live show enough to see it three times, making me thrilled to hear of a film version of the play. It just didn’t measure up, though.
Mila Kunis of the 70s Show plays Tina, and Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block plays her betrothed, Tony. For the film, some things have been added on before the wedding, such as the the groom and the groomsmen getting trashed in a bar and the bride getting ready for her big day. What was sacrificed to add this in, though, is much of the excitement from the wedding ceremony. I missed Sister Clare (Mary Testa) leading everyone in a group song, and I also missed all the banter back and forth between the bridal party. In the film, all we have are them reciting their vows and a few reactions from Tina’s mother, Mrs. Vitale (Priscilla Lopez) and Tony’s dad, Mr. Nunzio (John Fiore).
Along with some of the better parts cut out, it seems the other element that is missing from the film is the extreme caricatures and personalities of the wedding party. Father Mark (Dean Edwards) is still just as much of a booze hound, but it’s just not the same when he’s not sitting on the lap of the person sitting directly next to you. It’s not the same to watch them dancing when the bride’s brother, Joey (Richard Robichaux), isn’t pulling you out to dance with him. There’s something about having the pregnant maid-of-honor, Connie (Kim Director), making out with her boyfriend underneath the table next to you that pulls you into the action and makes it more entertaining. Simply watching these acts on the screen just isn’t the same.
Aside from the fact I didn’t end the film with a full belly of baked ziti like I did when I left the live performance of Tony ‘n Tina, it still just didn’t feel the same. Perhaps someone that hadn’t seen the live version of the show, and didn’t have anything to compare it to, wouldn’t feel the same, but with it running twenty years and being so successful, those people might be hard to come by. If you live in or are visiting an area where they do the live show, see it. If not, try the film at midnight. You’ll get to see some couples tie the knot live, and it’ll still be an entertaining show… just not in the same way.
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