Netflix has had some success with romantic comedies with movies like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Always Be My Maybe, but their latest offering to the genre, Love Wedding Repeat is a total misfire. Devoid of any sentiment other than “Isn’t it funny when people are forced into an awkward situation?” the film is a waste of everyone’s time, and I say that knowing we’re all stuck inside and have time to spare. There are plenty of better ways to kill 100 minutes than watching people fail at farce. It’s not that the cast or even the direction is “bad”; it’s that the material isn’t there. You basically have a rom-com premise that would be common in a typical sitcom, given a twist to make it feature length, and none of it works. It doesn’t make you feel good about love, these characters, or the outlandish predicament they find themselves in. The only love in Love Wedding Repeat seems to be the film’s infatuation with its own concept.
Jack (Sam Claflin) and Dina (Olivia Munn) were about to fall for each other in Rome three years ago before an old friend of Jack’s came along and ruined the moment. Three years later, they find themselves back in the same place, the wedding of Jack’s sister Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson). However, Hayley has her own problems when her coked-up ex-boyfriend Marc (Jack Farthing) comes along to declare his love for her at the ceremony. Hayley gives Jack some sleeping pills to put in Marc’s drink to knock him out and prevent him from ruining the wedding, but some kids some along and mix up the names on the place cards. After a first act that feels like it’s going to go on forever, the movie finally arrives at its twist, which is showing what happens when different people accidentally get drugged. The first time it plays out is disastrous, then we get a montage of different people getting drugged and how that plays out, and then we arrive at the “good” scenario where Hayley’s wedding can be saved and Jack and Dina can end up together.
If you ever watched Community, the premise will remind you of the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” where the plot had different outcomes based on who had to let the pizza delivery guy in. But whereas Community is a good show with excellent writing and seven characters you care about, Love Wedding Repeat is a chore with no jokes and people you can’t wait to stop watching. The thinking behind Dean Craig‘s script is that instant comedy comes from two people talking, and then a third person arrives and makes it awkward. Or that one person is awkward and the other person is barely tolerating them. Almost no one in Love Wedding Repeat feels like a real person; they feel more like a stock cutout designed to arouse the ire of everyone around them.
To Craig’s credit, he has done solid farce in the past like with 2007’s Death at a Funeral, but here, he seems lost with how to make us invested in the characters, so everyone being horrid to everyone else makes us instantly check out. Perhaps it’s because funerals are inherently somber affairs whereas weddings are a bit trickier in that they’re joyous but also need to be “protected”, but while the setting itself is open for comedy (there’s no shortage of wedding-gone-wrong comedies), we as an audience need to be invested in the stakes of success or else the comedy should be pitch black, and Love Wedding Repeat never gets there. It wants to be bitterly acerbic in its comedy but also have you rooting for Jack and Dina because they almost kissed three years ago.
Right now, Netflix has a leg up on its theatrical competition, but we also have more content right now that we could ever finish even if we weren’t all stuck inside. It’s not enough to say, “A shiny new lighthearted thing is here!” when all those TV shows you backlogged can finally be watched or compete with the comfort viewing you already have. Love Wedding Repeat is more grist for Netflix’s content mill, but as a movie, it’s barely worth having on in the background while you play around on your phone.