I watch my favorite movies over…and over…and over. I will watch a movie I’ve seen thirty times rather than a movie that I suspect may disappoint me or give me nightmares. Far too often, my darling husband has been wakened by his wife’s screaming. To people who assure me, “But X is a great movie!” I reply that I’m protecting him from this kind of surprise. It’s partly why I watch so much romantic comedy.
Another reason I rewatch my faves is to try to figure out what’s not perfect about them. (Authors. We’re nitpickers.)
I just love Out At The Wedding. This gay romcom features no actors you have ever heard of, except Mink Stole in a great mom role.
The imperfection in the movie is the heroine who, for no good reason, lies to everybody. She makes up elaborate stories—example, upon introducing her sister to her future in-laws: “She’s a radical lesbian feminist, she calls everybody ‘sistah,’ it’s a political statement with her. She’s very into role playing, ultra femme. I just introduced the two of them. I’m hoping for sparks!” And her excuses to her poor fiancé, at the end of the film, well, they just don’t work for me.
But the premise is great. Heroine is from South Carolina, escaped to Manhattan, never looked back. Her father is a conservative stiff. Her pretty younger sister never dated anybody who wasn’t already dating the heroine first. In Manhattan, heroine has fallen in love with a black guy and, terrified of introducing him to her father, she tells the guy that her whole family is dead.
Heroine flies home back to sister’s Carolina wedding, accompanied by her best friend, a gay guy who ran away to Manhattan with her. Due to a misunderstanding between gay best friend (rather broadly portrayed) and a drunk at the wedding, the rumor spreads at the reception that heroine is a lesbian.
Next morning, heroine tries to deny that she’s gay, but sister is so upset that heroine lies and says, “I’m sorry, yes, I’m gay, it’s very new and I’m just getting used to it.” This sets off a huge rush of sympathy from younger sister. For the first time maybe ever, sister is warm and supportive, and they have a heart-to-heart, loving, bonding conversation.
For this reason, heroine has a hard time breaking the news to everyone how she has lied.
Back in Manhattan, gay best friend suggests that they hire a lesbian to play heroine’s girlfriend, introduce her to sister, then send sister away, then tell her family that it was just a phase, surprise, I’m really marrying this black guy. They hire one. (Cathy DeBuono, amazingly hot.)
Then sister interrupts her honeymoon for a Manhattan visit to heroine. Heroine is ready with fake girlfriend. Immediately, sister begins hitting on fake girlfriend. Hijinks ensue.
The story proceeds, sometimes predictable, sometimes not, and it’s just adorable…but at the core of it is this messed-up character who lies elaborately and impulsively and apparently to everyone. The excuse she gives to her fiancé when it all comes apart is that “I’m animated…a cartoon princess,” and she’s afraid that when her happily-ever-after finally comes, her story will also end. This excuse has nothing to do with the lying. It smells like “Director panicked and demanded a last-minute, badly-written fix” to me.
So I watch the whole thing a lot, and hold my nose when it gets to the dumb parts, and try to figure out how I would rewrite the story or the heroine to make it all work.
Somebody, please go watch it and then tell me what they shoulda-coulda-woulda done instead. Can you come up with a better reason for why she lied?