Released: 18th November
Seen: 12th December
The “Things go wrong at a wedding” rom-com seems to be its own subgenre, one that has recently been putting out dull films that pop up about once a year (or at least, I review one of them every year). From forgettable things like Top End Wedding to objectively awful shit like Love, Weddings and Other Disasters, it seems that if there’s a wedding and things go wrong it’s probably not going to be that good… and yeah, The People We Hate At The Wedding isn’t that good, though it might be the best of a bad bunch.
The People We Hate At The Wedding takes place around the wedding of Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) who decides to invite her family to England for the wedding. Her family, all Americans, consists of her mother Donna (Allison Janney) and step-siblings Paul (Ben Platt) and Alice (Kristen Bell).
Paul brings along his boyfriend Dominic (Karan Soni) who seemingly wants to try opening up their relationship, meanwhile, Alice tries to bring along her lover who is also her married boss Jonathan (Jorma Taccone) but he bails before the flight so she meets up with actual nice guy Dennis (Dustin Milligan) and sees what could happen there. As they prepare for the wedding shenanigans occur, resentments get aired and the audience spends about an hour and a half with mostly unlikeable characters being unlikeable
The People We Hate At The Wedding tries to do a story about how this pack of unlikeable people can band together when needed and are actually loveable underneath all their harsher snarkier qualities which could be fun if those snarky moments were consistently funny. The problem is that they aren’t funny enough to overpower the unlikeable factor. Within moments of meeting every one of our main characters (Which are just the three Americans, Eloise is basically there to ensure there’s an actual story and the side characters are disposable) they’re just completely horrible people who you can’t really care about, even when they’re at their wittiest there’s still that impossible wall to get over.
The plot itself is very basic, largely the two American siblings are jealous of the wealth of the English one about to get married and that’s going to be the central conflict. It’s not an interesting conflict, but it’s a conflict. Alice spends most of the film leading Dennis on while she pines for Jonathan to join them, which’d be interesting if we cared about that relationship but there’s no real chance to. As for Paul… well let’s just say that it says an upsetting amount that there are four core relationships in this film, three straight and one gay and it’s the gay one who ends the film completely single (unless you count the Polaroid of him with another guy that goes during the credits, which we don’t because it looks like a photo they stole from Platt’s Instagram to keep people from pointing out this obvious flaw). Again, NONE of this is interesting, it’s just not.
You’d think things might get interesting when The People We Hate At The Wedding finally gets to the actual wedding, but you’d be wrong because the wedding itself is basically an afterthought. Sure you get some mild chaos at the rehearsal dinner but we wouldn’t dare try something interesting like actually creating chaos at the real wedding, that might be something a good dark comedy would do and this really isn’t one of those.
Now, this is not to say that The People We Hate At The Wedding is entirely devoid of laughter because it isn’t, there are moments that actually managed to get a giggle. Hell, it would be impossible not to get a laugh out of this cast who have all proven time and time again that they’re quite good at comedy. There are moments here and there where they manage to actually make for some genuinely funny scenes, like when Donna tries a little too hard to prove to her son that she’s OK with him being gay or a couple of moments between Alice and Dennis manage to actually get out a little chuckle. It isn’t completely barren of laughter… just mostly barren. It goes so long without a laugh that you can often wonder if maybe they forgot what genre this was meant to be part of.
Perhaps the worst offence that The People We Hate At The Wedding commits is just wasting a legend like Allison Janney who barely appears in the film, and when she’s there she doesn’t get anything to do. She’s easily the most accomplished performer in the cast, the one who probably should’ve been handed the bulk of the jokes just in an attempt to make them work but she just seems to sit on the outside, technically there but not an actual part of the proceedings.
The People We Hate At The Wedding is just another unfunny wedding comedy. There are glimpses of something here if you look hard enough and it’s not actively painful to sit through but that’s one hell of a low bar. With a cast like this and the writers of the Bob’s Burgers movie handling things, this should’ve been absolutely hilarious but instead, it just takes up space and time without offering anything decent for what it asks of the audience.