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Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Four Weddings and a Funeral Special Edition DVD

Hes quite engaging. Shes otherwise engaged.

Directed by:

Lucrecia Martel

Mike Newell

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 117 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Argentina, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom

I’m not giving too much away in saying that ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ is a film that does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s got its maths spot on. There ARE four weddings, and there IS a funeral. There’s no chance of any of that not happening. It’s not as if there’s going to be a surprise fifth wedding, or perhaps a sneaky bar mitzvah thrown into the bargain. Nope, it pretty much sets its stall out with the title (interestingly though, writer Richard Curtis later abandoned this tactic, otherwise ‘Love Actually’ would have been named ‘Lots of Tenuously Interlinked and Underdeveloped Romantic Sub-Plots’, and that just doesn’t have the same ring to it).

A decade on from enjoying massive success at box offices worldwide, this archetypal modern English toff-fest has finally been handed a DVD re-release in the form of this brand spanking new Special Edition. That, combined with the fact that over the years I’ve become unable to separate it in my mind from ‘Notting Hill’, deemed it well worthy of another watch from my own point of view (although strangely, having now watched it another couple of times, I’m still struggling to pick out some of the differences between the two films).

Anyway, without giving much more away than the title itself chooses to, it’s about a soggy singleton called Charles (Hugh Grant) who pulls American visitor Carrie (Andie MacDowell) at a friend’s wedding, proceeds to lose her to someone else, and then spends most of the rest of the film wishing he could get her back. Throw in three more weddings and one character snuffing it (that’s the funeral part of it, natch), and Robert’s your father’s brother: you’ve got yourself ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.

Featuring the breakthrough appearances of both Grant (this is the role that most of his subsequent type-casting has been based on) and John Hannah, it’s a light-hearted, foppish and completely inoffensive romantic comedy which remains much-loved on both sides of The Pond. It gets the bulk of its casting just right, with the one exception of MacDowell who, as usual, struggles to drag herself out of the realms of the annoying. Of course it’s not her fault that her character is underdeveloped and therefore nigh-on impossible to get to grips with, but it is her fault that her acting skills match those of a cardboard cut-out.

Personally, I maintain that all of Curtis’ best work has been on the small screen, with ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’, ‘Blackadder’, ‘Mr Bean’ and the terrific telly-film ‘Bernard and the Genie’ all better than this more recent stuff – but there’s little doubting that the funniest bits in ‘Four Weddings’ are very, very funny. Rowan Atkinson’s scenes as the bungling vicar, for example, are hilarious, as is the mad old bloke who questions Charles’ identity at Wedding Number 1. But, while this is obviously more a matter of personal taste than a comment on quality, much of the rest of the humour fell a bit flat for me.

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It's Got: The father, the son, and the holy goat.

It Needs: A finger buffet, and a better band (for the weddings obviously, not the funeral).

DVD Extras Three separate featurettes (‘In the Making’, ‘The Wedding Planners’ and ‘Two Actors and a Director’), deleted scenes, behind-the-scens piccy gallery, promo spots, theatrical trailer, and an audio commentary provided by Curtis, director Mike Newell and producer Duncan Kenworthy. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

36 Fillette, Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Limbo, Love Actually, Notting Hill, Stealing Beauty

Summary

Hugh Grant earned his status as the bungling toff’s bungling toff with his now-familiar display in this likable, quintessentially English, rom-com.

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