Case Number 19234: Small Claims Court

OUR FAMILY WEDDING

Fox // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // July 7th, 2010

The Charge

To have and to hold...'Til dads do us part.

The Case

When I review romantic comedies, I simplify my criteria checklist. Subtle nuances, expert cinematography, a full array of supplementary features, a gripping plot -- none of these are measurable values worth noting here. I keep it simple: did the film cause cerebral hemorrhaging in my body? If the answer is no, then I consider the film a job well done. Case in point: Our Family Wedding, an ethno-hilarious romantic comedy about the pitfalls and perils of a racially mixed wedding. Calling it "good" or "bad" seems irrelevant. From a review standpoint, I'm just grateful it didn't murder my brain.

For lovestruck youngsters Marcus (Lance Gross, House of Payne) and Lucia (America Ferrera, Ugly Betty), engaged to be married, the hardest part is going to be telling their overprotective parents, Brad (Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland) and Miguel (Carlos Mencia, The Heartbreak Kid) of their impending nuptials. The two families immediately dislike the other on the grounds of racial prejudices, black and Hispanic values clashing along cultural lines. Can true love overcome the animosity of larger-than-life parents?

There is Comedy in this film, because the husband-to-be is an African-American, and the wife-to-be is Mexican-American. Hilarity! Well, that's the idea, anyway. Much ado is made about the incompatibilities between both families along cultural divides. Remember now, one family is black and the other Hispanic. That's what makes the Comedy. There are some funny moments to be had -- like the imaginary fantasy sequence envisioning the explosive seating combinations at the wedding -- but on the whole, this is pretty tepid stuff. Light racial epithets are hurled; the family patriarchs hate one another, but bond over the Shakespearian love of their offspring and bury the hatchet without tearing up the streets of Verona. A film could do a lot with this kind of material, a sincere and honest examination into ongoing racial tensions in America, but in Our Family Wedding, it's just window dressing. You get a few chuckles here and there, the film runs its predictably charming course, and the credits roll. The racial and cultural divides are rendered down to their most innocuous and harmless -- just empty comedic calories.

Amusingly, I found myself completely bored and disinterested at the plight of Marcus and Lucia, and far more interested in watching the limited character development and growth of the fathers, Brad and Miguel. It is literally the most interesting thing in a film bereft of interest; call it a rare case of bromance being more touching than the advertised heterosexual romance. What few chuckles the film manages to surgically extract from its audience come from this antagonistic dynamic between the racially and financially segregated fathers of the bride and groom. Forrest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia have more chemistry together than the two romantic leads. Go figure.

What hurts the most about Our Family Wedding is that a film with this much award-winning talent in it should be much more impressive and memorable. Everyone looks bored and resigned, hitting their lines with the methodical plodding of a line cook at a fast food restaurant. No passion, no flair, no originality. The job gets done, but there's no warmth or passion, no heart. Whitaker turns out the best performance here by default, a disinterested, sleepwalking affair that coasts by on his immeasurable talent.

Fox sent us a watermarked screener to review, so technical specs are pretty much out; our copy came in a widescreen anamorphic presentation with a full 5.1 surround mix and a stereo surround Spanish track. Extras included deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and some trailers -- standard offerings for a single-disc release.

If mixing two parts Guess Who's Coming To Dinner with one part Father Of The Bride, a dash of Meet the Parents, and garnish of Mind of Mencia sounds delicious, then Our Family Wedding will be right up your alley. You may want to see a doctor though, because something might be wrong with your taste buds. Formulaic and predictable, this is a banal and painful comedy, if for no other reason than expressing frustration at the squandering of this much star power.

The Verdict

Guilty. You could do worse on date night, but under any other conditions, you'd be best to avoid.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 72

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Extended/Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Trailer

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1305583/combined

* Official Website
http://www.foxsearchlight.com/ourfamilywedding/