Sunday, February 7, 2016

Betsy's Wedding

Year 8, Day 38 - 2/7/16 - Movie #2,239

BEFORE: Of course it's Super Bowl Sunday, and after a run to the store yesterday for cold cuts and snacks, I'm good to go.  Who knows, I may even watch the game, but I don't HAVE to, for the first time in nearly 20 years.  I had a job where I tracked commercials with animation and effects in them, so the Super Bowl was always, well, kind of like our Super Bowl.  But we focused on the ads, not the game.  I was free of this task last year, but the Patriots were playing, so I had to watch.  This year, who knows?  Maybe I'll just watch the Puppy Bowl and just speed through the NFL hype for old time's sake.  

But scheduling a wedding on Super Bowl Sunday?  It must have happened to someone at some time.  People plan weddings months in advance, and who checks the football schedule before doing so?  I can only imagine the tension this could cause in a family, especially if the wedding's taking place in a city with a football team that's in the big game.  

I've circled back to Molly Ringwald - indirectly linking from Harry Dean Stanton through "Pretty in Pink", of course.

And the TCM line-up for tomorrow, February 8, starting the 2nd week of Oscar-themed programming:

Dick Powell carries over from "It Happened Tomorrow" to:
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1935) with James Cagney carrying over to:
"Mister Roberts"with Henry Fonda carrying over to:
"I Dream Too Much" with Lily Pons carrying over to:
"That Girl From Paris" with Gene Raymond carrying over to:
"Flying Down to Rio" with Dolores Del Rio carrying over to:
"Cheyenne Autumn" with Carroll Baker carrying over to:
"Baby Doll" with Karl Malden carrying over to: 
"Patton" with George C. Scott carrying over to:
"The Hustler" with Murray Hamilton carrying over to:
"The Graduate" with Katharine Ross carrying over to:
"The Singing Nun"

I've hit with another 4 out of these 11, since I've seen "Mister Roberts", "Patton", "The Hustler" and "The Graduate".  That's 30 that I've seen and 61 that I haven't - somehow I'm still hovering around the 50% mark.  

THE PLOT:  Fashion student Betsy Hopper and her investment-banker fiancĂ© just want an intimate little wedding reception, but Betsy's father, a Long Island construction contractor, feels so threatened by Jake's rich parents that he turns the ceremony into a bank-breaking showpiece.

AFTER: I covered a lot of weddings last February like "The Wedding Date", "The Big Wedding", "My Best Friend's Wedding", and of course "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".  But this one's more like "My Big Half-Italian Half-Jewish (Possibly Scottish But Really Rich Asshole) American Wedding".  Though I suppose if you get right down to it, it's really a combination of "Father of the Bride" and "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (if you're a child of the 1980's or 90's, make that Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride" and "The Money Pit")

But what made films like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" so popular?  Possibly focus.  They say a wedding's supposed to be about the bride...OK, so the bride and her family.  But his one goes off on tangents about Long Island housing developments, mobsters laundering money, a man sleeping with his secretary (hey, a callback to "Secretary"), his wife getting back at him, plus a man talking with the ghost of his dead father.  A couple's family members nearly get in the way of them being together (hey, a callback to "For Keeps?") And once again, as in "Pretty in Pink", Molly Ringwald expresses herself and fixes everything by redesigning a dress.  Is this really how women think they're going to make everything better?  True beauty comes from within, ladies.  

There's so much going on that I almost have trouble recognizing this as a romantic comedy - there didn't seem to be much room for showing that the bride and groom actually care about each other.  We get a few moments where they connect on the morning of the big day, but everything else (including them getting back together after a fight) is mentioned, rather than shown.  It's supposed to be "Show, don't tell."

Thankfully, the parents have true affection for each other, even though they're from different ethnic backgrounds.  This is a common theme here, allowing people to be different but still together.  It's OK if the bride's father is Italian and her mother is Jewish, we just cover more bases, and that's less divisive than having two sets of parents from two different backgrounds.  The mixed marriage already works, and the groom's parents, like the groom, are sort of a big boring blank.  

Then there's the "opposites attract" storyline, where the other sister, Connie, is initially upset over Betsy's wedding (hey, at least she doesn't cut herself) but eventually comes to terms with it, and is then romanced by her father's brother-in-law's business associate's nephew, who might be a gangster, while she's a police officer.  While a bit far-fetched, it's a sweet, sincere storyline that saves the film.  There could easily have been a sequel, "Connie's Wedding", which would have also allowed us to check in on Betsy and Jake a few years down the road.  I guess this film didn't do well enough to warrant a sequel. 

Also starring Alan Alda (last seen in "Murder at 1600"), Madeline Kahn (last seen in "The Cheap Detective"), Molly Ringwald (last seen in "Pretty in Pink"), Joe Pesci, Anthony LaPaglia (last seen in "Summer of Sam"), Catherine O'Hara (last seen in "A Simple Twist of Fate"), Ally Sheedy (last seen in "The Breakfast Club"), Burt Young (last seen in "Rocky Balboa"), Joey Bishop (last seen in "Ocean's 11"), Dylan Walsh (last seen in "Nobody's Fool"), Nicolas Coster, Allan Rich (last seen in "Amistad"), Bibi Besch, with cameos from Frankie Faison, Tom Mardirosian, Samuel L. Jackson (last heard in "Turbo").

RATING: 5 out of 10 decoy taxicabs

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