Once upon an Elizabethan matinee, a silly convention of theater was that all comedies began in chaos and ended in a wedding. This dramatic (err, comedic) tradition didn’t exactly die out with Shakespeare, though, so my fiancé and I had a lot of films to choose from when we decided to do a wedding-movie marathon. You see, in honor of our upcoming nuptials we set out with the very cheesy purpose of watching one different movie about weddings every night for an entire month; I should note that we also tried to stick to the really wedding-centric movies (not just movies like “The Hangover” that use an upcoming wedding as a ticking clock). This involved watching some downright turkeys, but also included some pleasant surprises. Here are my favorite flicks out of the whole wedded bunch…
- “The Philadelphia Story” (1940) – Katherine Hepburn reinvigorated her career with this film, and it isn’t just one of my favorite comedy/wedding-themed movies ever – it’s also one of my plain-ol’ favorite movies ever. James Stewart and Cary Grant give bang-up performances alongside the unparalleled Ms. Hepburn, and I promise you will notice something new to roll on the ground hysterically about every time you watch this gem. Need more convincing? Check out this other little rave I wrote about “The Philadelphia Story.”
- “Muriel’s Wedding” (1994) – This flick has just the right balance of earnestness and hilariousness (sprinkled, of course, with a healthy dose of ABBA music). Toni Collette plays a homely Australian girl who desperately yearns for her wedding day. The problem is: she isn’t in a relationship, let alone engaged. Watching Muriel struggle to get the wedding of her dreams is both funny and tragic, so make sure you have some multi-purpose Kleenex on hand.
- “Father of the Bride” (1950 and 1991) – I recommend watching the Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin versions of this tale back-to-back so you can pay attention to how uncannily the shots and dialogue mirror each other in many scenes. Both flicks are helmed by comedic geniuses and are very male-friendly in spite of the fact that they feature more wedding details than any of the other movies on my list. Just for the record, my personal favorite of the two is the Steve Martin version (partly because I love Martin Short’s performance and partly because the time period makes it more socially relatable).
- “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding” (2002) – We’ve all seen the tale of an ugly duckling who turns into a swan and marries her prince at least a thousand times, but this movie shows us what it looks like when the duckling in question happens to be Greek. Maybe it’s the multi-generational-family element or the comedy of cultural differences, but – whatever the “it” factor is – Nia Vardalos landed on a winner when she wrote and starred in this film.
- “Bride Wars” (2009) – This one’s the real shocker of the bunch, especially since I remember watching “Bride Wars” when it first came out and despising the petty, materialistic nature of the characters. Upon second viewing, however, this flick really got me laughing at Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway’s antics. It is steeped in all the Vera Wangs, peonies and crystals that modern brides tend to crave in a wedding movie, but the chemistry and comedic timing of these two brides reaping revenge on each other makes it about so much more than just the lead characters’ dreams of “a wedding at The Plaza in June.”
Psst: Did your favorite wedding movie make my list? If not, what is it? I would love to hear from you!