Friday June 13, 1997
Are audiences ready for another movie about the Fate Worse Than Death? That is, being 30 and unmarried? Pretty gruesome, but stick with it, because as trite as "Wedding Bell Blues" seems to be, it gets better. And better.
It may not ever get great, though, because besides suffering from what looks like a bad blowup from 16mm to 35mm, its directing is never quite up to the script. And the script is never quite up to the actresses. But the actresses do some of their best work, as characters who--will wonders never cease?--are more than just variations on the same female theme.
Sure, they all suffer from the husband blues--they don't have any, so they're blue. Irrational perhaps, but they approach their misery from entirely different directions and ethnic entanglements.
Micki (Julie Warner of "Doc Hollywood") has been jilted just before getting to the altar and has this whole Jewish guilt/no orgasm thing to go through. Tanya (Paulina Porizkova of Sports Illustrated) is the daughter-protegee of a beautiful, much-married mother (Stephanie Beacham, "Dynasty") who finds herself pregnant and suddenly boyfriendless. And the prickly Jasmine (Illeana Douglas of "Grace of My Heart") has to deal with the cloying concerns of her Old World family, who are praying for her to get married soon, honeeeeeey, and start reproducing.
Sick and tired of the whole affair--or lack thereof--they decide to go to Las Vegas, marry someone (anyone) quickly, get divorced immediately and get their families off their backs. Illogical? Sure. But consider "Wedding Bell Blues" a metaphor for the burden of procreation or the temporary insanity caused by the relentless attention of relatives.
As silly as it sometimes gets, "Wedding Bell Blues" never loses that thread of truth that keeps it from unraveling entirely. The suffocation of social pressure, the idea of self-worth as defined by men--it all rings true. And the movie also has smart performances: Douglas, whose Jasmine is almost constitutionally incapable of letting down her guard until she meets the earthy Matt (Jonathan Penner); Porizkova as Tanya, who almost turns into her mother and allows the good-hearted Oliver (a warm Charles Martin Smith) to take the paternity rap for her child; and Warner as Micki, who finds the road to paradise with a lusty cowboy named Cary ("Northern Exposure's" disc jockey, John Corbett).
The film also includes some lengthy footage of Debbie Reynolds' nightclub act--cute, and she was nice to consent--but whatever other delights "Wedding Bell Blues" contains, it's never so fantastic that it might not happen. The story's a long shot, of course, a punkish fairy tale. But you never get the sense that you're being led down the primrose path. Or any aisle in particular.
Wedding Bell Blues, 1997. R for sex-related content. A Curb Entertainment and Bergman Lustig production released by BMG Independents. Director Dana Lustig. Producers Ram Bergman & Dana Lustig and Mike Curb & Carole Curb Nemoy. Screenplay Annette Goliti Gutierrez. Editor Caroline Ross. Costumes Dana Allyson. Music Paul Christian Gordon & Tal Bergman. Production designer Shay Austin. Set decorator Lori A. Noyes. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. Illeana Douglas as Jasmine. Paulina Porizkova as Tanya. Julie Warner as Micki. John Corbett as Cary. Jonathan Penner as Matt. Charles Martin Smith as Tom.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times