The Wilde Wedding

You buy a movie at Dollar Tree, you shouldn’t have high expectations.

That movie? 2017’s The Wilde Wedding. Retired movie star Eve Wilde (Glenn Close) is getting married (her fourth trip down the aisle) to British novelist Harold (Patrick Stewart), and among the guests is Eve’s actor ex-husband (first), Lawrence Darling (John Malkovich), with whom she’s developed a closer relationship post-marriage than they ever had during the years when they were married and had three sons together. A romantic triangle comedy about those three characters, on the weekend of Eve and Harold’s wedding, had the potential to be great. Who doesn’t want to see Close, Malkovich, and Stewart together on screen?

The problem is, there’s like twenty other characters the movie expects us to care about. There’s Eve and Lawrence’s sons, grandchildren, and an ex-daughter-in-law, plus a granddaughter’s girlfriend (who is introduced then disappears), Harold’s two daughters, Harold’s daughters’ life-long friend, an Italian best man and his daughter, and… well, it’s all too much, and I couldn’t keep anyone straight, let alone tell you their names. It’s like Love Actually (which has way too fucking many characters), but worse; at least Love Actually pretends to have enough story to support all of its characters. Not to mention, with so many characters, several of them were indistinguishable; not only did I not know the names of Eve and Lawrence’s sons, I couldn’t tell the difference between two of them, nor could I tell the difference between Harold’s daughters and their friend, except that one of them had blond hair.

Why is the movie spending time on one of the sons’ effort to get in touch with the Greyhound bus driver (whom we never see) who drove the bus that was was very late and brought his daughter and her girlfriend to the wedding? Or, was there any point to the scene on the beach with the young woman speaking Italian? That’s time that could have been better spent on the main trio, or maybe the underdeveloped subplot about Eve’s son and Harold’s daughter, or the even less-developed subplot about the granddaughter who’s crushing on her cousin (“first cousin once removed, technically”) that’s weirdly also the frame for the whole movie. The time would have been better spent on the main plot; spend time exploring Eve’s doubts (which aren’t even expressed until the third act) or Harold’s foibles (which are hinted at, and an attentive viewer might pick up that he’s shallow and immature, despite being in his sixties).

The reason to watch the movie is Close, Malkovich, and Stewart, not a bunch of interchangeable upper-middle class pretty people and their bacchanal-slash-shenanigans when a can of chocolate covered hallucinogenic mushrooms comes out after the rehearsal dinner. The movie is not without its moments — the scenes of Malkovich and Stewart together bonding after the rehearsal dinner, drunk and (unknowingly) high, are a strange, loopy delight. It’s very much a movie where the performers do their all to elevate the weak material they’ve been given; Close may play the titular character, but she’s underdeveloped by the script, Malkovich finds this charming spot between wise old sage and romantic comedy foil, and Stewart plays the immature but likably bombastic boor well.

But The Wilde Wedding doesn’t trust its strengths, and the result is a disappointingly superficial movie that wastes its star power and always feels like it’s skirting the edge of a much more interesting — and better — movie than what it’s willing to give us.

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