Case Number 14144: Small Claims Court


Emerging Pictures // 2004 // 110 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // July 28th, 2008

The Charge

You are cordially invited...

The Case

Tony n' Tina's Wedding: The Movie makes comedy hay with mild raunch, the propensity for weddings to act as a lightning rod for relationship drama, and broad stereotypes involving every imaginable Guidoism of middle-class Long Island Italian-Americans. Tina Vitale (Mila Kunis, That '70s Show) is the daughter of a widowed, devoutly Catholic mother (Priscilla Lopez, Maid in Manhattan). Tony Nunzio (Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block) is the son of a gauche strip club owner (John Fiore, The Sopranos). Everyone in both families has a big mouth and no class. The movie is a cornucopia of bad taste -- mint green bride's maid's gowns, Tina's gay brother's powder blue tuxedo, gigantic sprayed bouffants, mullets, bad mustaches, gold chains, and caked on blue eyeliner.

After perhaps the most inartful and unromantic wedding vows in history, the wedding guests head to Vinnie Black's Coliseum (the Cadillac of caterers) for the reception. There, the booze and ziti flow until everyone loosens up and starts to get real. Tensions between Tina's old-fashioned mother and Tony's sleazy father bubble to the surface. Tina's brother Joey (Richard Robichaux, Flannel Pajamas) catches their uncle peeing in the holy water. The extremely pregnant maid of honor drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney. Tina's ex-boyfriend, Michael (Adrian Grenier, Entourage), crashes the party in a last-ditch effort to win her back. Maddy (Krista Allen, Anger Management), a girl from Tony's pop's joint, does an impromptu musical number. Father Mark (Dean Edwards, Saturday Night Live), the progressive black priest who officiated at the wedding ceremony, gets blitzed on scotch and is unable to stop himself from being brutally honest to anyone he speaks with. All of it is captured for posterity by flamboyant videographer Raphael (Guillermo Diaz, The Terminal).

The brainchild of New York's Artificial Intelligence comedy team, Tony n' Tina's Wedding began as an "experimental theatre" stage play -- heavily improvisational in style and involving the audience directly in the action. Years ago, I saw it live in Chicago. We watched the wedding from pews in a small church set, then moved to a larger second venue to eat at the reception and interact with the play's characters. It was a lively and relatively free-form good time.

In its transition from stage to silver screen (or home theater monitor), the show loses a lot of its vitality and spontaneity. It maintains a lot of the laughs, though. Tony n' Tina's Wedding is filled with some genuinely funny dialogue and gags, delivered by a capable cast. Kunis and McIntyre are excellent as the titular couple (Tina's not all that different from Kunis's brash, spoiled brat Jackie on That '70s Show). Lots of handheld camerawork and plenty of space for improvisation give the proceedings a natural, off-the-cuff feel. Unfortunately, none of that remedies the fact that the cinematic format demands flattening narrative events that would overlap during a live performance into a more linear presentation. Attending the play multiple times can deliver vastly different experiences depending on which characters you hang out with. In having to straighten out the various subplots for a detached, all-seeing audience, the movie becomes long, tiring, and painfully convoluted. At nearly two full hours, Tony n' Tina's Wedding overstays its welcome by about 30 minutes and has at least a half-dozen too many characters.

The low-budget production looks good but not great on DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphically-enhanced transfer presents colors accurately, though blacks could be deeper. Both the 5.1 surround and stereo audio tracks are fine, though neither will rock your world.

Extras include a two-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that is nothing more than raw camcorder footage of the movie being shot; a couple of photo galleries; a trailer; and a DVD-ROM feature that lets you view the couple's wedding vows in PDF format. It's all throw-away stuff.

Tony n' Tina's Wedding: The Movie is funny and absurd, but a bad fit for the medium of film. Like most weddings I've attended, it got to the point where I was wishing someone would cut the damned cake so I could go home.

Guilty as charged.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 72

Perp Profile
Studio: Emerging Pictures
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

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

* None

Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Wedding Album
* Wedding Vows
* Behind the Scenes
* Production Gallery
* Trailer

* IMDb