Mill Creek Entertainment // 2011 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // July 20th, 2011
Scandal. Lust. Disaster. Intrigue. And the invitations haven't even gone out yet!
Remember the Eighties? (I'm not talking to you, young people, so keep your smirks to yourselves.) Remember Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, the films that spawned the Brat Pack, Gen-X's answer to our parents' heroes of stage and screen? What happened to them? Oh, sure, Emilio, Rob, and Demi went on to bigger and better things, but the rest...well, they kinda self-destructed and churned out some rather unforgettable films. Along the way, someone filled with at least as much alcohol as nostalgia decided it was high time those films received undeserved Blu-ray releases.
Besty's Wedding is misnamed. It should be called Eddie's House or perhaps Alan Alda Makes a Movie. It begins with Eddie Hopper (Alan Alda, Crimes and Misdemeanors) being mauled by a tiger and ends with him smiling serenely at his daughters. Almost every scene in between is mostly about him.
Eddie is the owner of a small construction company, but when the contract on a mansion he was hired to build is terminated, he decides to cover the cost of finishing it himself. Life then blindsides him with the news his daughter Betsy (Molly Ringwald, Pretty in Pink) is getting married. Weddings cost a lot, so needing a quick influx of cash, Eddie partners with his slumlord...er...property mogul brother in-law, Oscar (Joe Pesci, Casino). Oscar jumps at the chance to maximize their profits on the house by involving some stereotypical Italians he knows. Eddie agrees then regrets it, after discovering they're mobsters who want to use the construction as a front for illegal...
What? You thought this film was about a young woman named Betsy and her nuptials? Hahahaha...Oh, that's a good one! Betsy does get married at the end (no, that's not a spoiler), and there are a few scenes about the bride, the groom, and their respective families (especially Alda) arguing about wedding details and compromising to make everyone happy. Really, though, the wedding preparation is just background noise. In fact, the titular Betsy is a secondary character at best, and her fiancée (Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck) is almost a bit player. They smooch, fight, and try to keep all their relatives happy, while trying not to compromise their own beliefs (such as having no meat at the reception and, for God's sake, don't mention God!). I guess there isn't enough emotional heft in wedding planning to fill an entire film. Ringwald and Walsh have very little chemistry but the acutely Eighties outfits they make Molly wear are almost worth the price of the movie.
I would argue that Betsy's cop sister Connie (Ally Sheedy, Welcome to the Rileys) has a bigger role than the bride herself. Connie has a budding romance with mob up-and-comer Stevie Dee (Anthony LaPaglia, Without a Trace), but resists because...well, she's a cop and he's in the mob. Sheedy tries, but makes for an unconvincing tough girl. LaPaglia fares slightly better. He isn't asked to do any real acting, per se; he just says his lines in overly-annunciated Wise Guy. But at least he looks good in his suits.
Oscar's fling with his secretary and his wife's subsequent revenge plot receive equal billing with the nuptials. Betsy's Wedding came out the same year as Goodfellas, so I can't explain why Pesci was as bad in the former as he was great in the latter. Oh wait, yes I can: the former was directed by Alan Alda. The latter was directed by Martin Scorsese.
The fact there are at least four storylines, only one of which refers to the title, should tell you a lot about the film's structure. Watching Betsy's Wedding feels a lot like being at a wedding wherein no one could agree on the details so everything anyone suggested was thrown in to keep people happy. The result is a chaotic mess with no central theme, unless you count the Alan Alda's pervasiveness.
Alda does his best, but his M*A*S*H charisma seems to have been left in Korea; he just doesn't have the presence to carry a film. Instead, like the loud, annoying uncle who thinks he knows everything, he quickly oversaturates the proceedings. He's not a very good physical comedian either. The scene where he attempts to use a weight machine that's set too high is painful to watch, and not in a "Ha ha, he hurt himself" way.
If you were wondering what a film like Betsy's Wedding did to earn a Blu-ray treatment, keep wondering because it may as well be a standard DVD. I suppose the 1.78:1 1080p image is better than 480p standard definition, but not by enough to make the upgrade useful (unless the 2002 DVD transfer was exceptionally sloppy). There is noticeable flickering and...I can only call it "flaking" from time to time. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio disappoints as well. There are no extras, but that's probably a good thing since they would likely be full of more Alan Alda. Much as I love Hawkeye Pierce, I've had my fill of him for the time being.
Unless you're a Brat Pack zealot who needs to see everything they ever made, go rent Four Weddings and a Funeral. It's pretty good and from around the same era.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R