The People We Hate at Wedding (2022)

The people we hate at the wedding2022.

Claire Scanlon directed.
Starring Allison Janney, Kristen Bell, Ben Platt, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Karan Soni, Dustin Milligan, Isaach De Bankole, Jorma Taccone, Jaxon Goldenberg, Andy Daly, Milakale Kember, Lexi Janicek, Greg Barnett, Randall Park, Pedro Minas, Tony Goldwyn, John Macmillan, Julian Ovenden, Lizzy Caplan, Rufus Jones, Davina Moon, Jemima Rooper and Mark Kitto.

SUMMARY:

In the week before their half-sister’s wedding in the country, family tensions between the siblings increase.

After a divorce, a new marriage and raising her children, Donna’s (Allison Janney) family drifted apart emotionally and physically. Spread across America and London, she desires an opportunity that unites everyone, which is unlikely given that they don’t necessarily want to speak to her and, in some cases, go out of their way not to answer her calls.

There’s also a rift in that firstborn Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) was close to her wealthy father Henrique (Isaach De Bankolé), who was always spoiled with long-distance calls as a child and often spent that money on family needs. She then achieved a successful career while her siblings struggled with unfulfilled jobs. Eloise is also close to marrying Ollie (John Macmillan), prompting everyone to get together; hence the title The people we hate at the wedding (a title awkwardly woven into a third-act dialogue).

Except for overly broad-based attempts at comedy, where the cast is usually embarrassed to watch (another big issue in the third act), siblings Alice and Paul (played by Kristen Bell and Ben Platt, respectively) are more of a first-timer unsympathetic director Claire Scanlon (with a screenplay by Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin and Wendy Molyneux, based on the book by Grant Ginder) strives for complexity and depth, something that occasionally works until the filmmakers give up and resort to cartoon antics (like a frightening fistfight at the wedding).

The running gag is that Eloise wants the family to get back together and have a normal, happy wedding. Unfortunately, Alice and Paul have taken it upon themselves to take their unhappiness and life out on Eloise, her partner, the wedding, and the Brits in general (there are some awkwardly stereotypical and outdated jokes about the locals, too). This is accomplished by Paul constantly providing detailed information about his gay sex life (leading to one of the few funny scenes where Donna stops two civilians and forcefully repeats some of these sexual acts in a misguided attempt to show she is proud of hers son and accepts who he is) and Alice is an all round rude person.

The good news is that Kristen Bell finds a measure of honesty and humanity in her deeply flawed character, who sleeps with her married assistant (Jorma Taccone), whom she intends to be her +1 for the wedding, even if he’s one complete idiot who uses them both for sex and might not get on a flight to London. While he’s indecisive and constantly apologizing, Alice is opened up by Dennis (Dustin Milligan), a passenger on the first flight to London, who is surprised by her cheeky humor and beauty and ready to find the good in her She’s ready to stand up for herself and regain a moral compass. The scenes between them are easily among the best here, while everything else is either a cheap gag or falls flat dramatically.

As for Paul, he is the more sympathetic of the two who is pushed by his friend to open up about three ways and other situations that make him feel uncomfortable and that his love is not enough. The problem is that he’s also not an interesting character and the relationships don’t feel nearly explored enough. Donna and Henrique begin to rekindle their affection for each other, which is a bit more compelling given the performances, but also feels cliche and underdeveloped.

There’s also a weird framing device where the film inexplicably starts and ends around Christmas. Alot about The people we hate at the wedding doesn’t feel fully conceptualized and chooses to resort to lazy humor that drowns out the story’s potential. If there’s anything to hate, it’s this.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]

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