By: Addison Wylie
Serial (Bad) Weddings is a funny flick before it gets cold feet.
Christian Clavier is the deadpan Claude Verneuil, a father who is constantly faced with cultural differences. Three daughters all marry over the course of three years, and all fall in love with men of different cultural backgrounds. The Verneuil’s welcome Chinese, Muslim, and Jewish ethnicities. The men are all standoffish with each other, the women are defensive, and the parents have difficulty understanding everything.
It helps to take in Philippe de Chauveron’s comedy as a straight-up farce. When you do, the politically incorrect humour still has a certain innocence to it. The verbal head-butting has the audience giggling as each newlywed stands their ground, making unreasonable and harebrained accusations. If you take the film in as a farce, the physical gags add more coal to the comedic fire. With all these wild elements running about, Clavier’s fed-up portrayal nicely compliments the noise. He’s effortlessly channeling Peter Sellers with a dash of Larry David.
However, small doses of this type of suggestive humour go a long way. I’m afraid Chauveron and co-writer Guy Laurent overdo it when a fourth daughter and her suitor enter the picture.
Hoping for a more “typical” guy, the final daughter brings a black man home to meet her parents. He’s nice, he’s versatile, but the Verneuil’s – as expected – comprehend another race with the same unaware absurdity they inhabit.
This is where Serial (Bad) Weddings changes its gears for the worse. Chauveron’s film may have been racy, but bringing another “different” man into the equation has the film spinning its wheels and burning rubber. The racial nitpicking gets to be repetitive between the dense family members, and the personal digs stretch themselves too thin.
Since Serial (Bad) Weddings is working towards a wedding, the film turns generic and gives audiences an ordinary odd couple story with Claude and the new father-in-law arguing and squaring off, only to churn out those inevitable scenes where the dads realize that they’re not so different after all. I didn’t know this type of material could be broader than how it was in Guess Who?. I learn something new everyday.
I was liking Serial (Bad) Weddings and all its naughtiness before the movie hung up its cojones. Its high spirits may have grown tedious as it lurched towards cynicism, but it reminded me of the surprising If I Were You in the sense that a filmmaker wasn’t scared to make a full-blown farce in a modern age where comedies must resemble a specific formula.