Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder pair up as miserable guests in “Destination Wedding.”
Photo courtesy of thefyzz
Some major ’90s favorites, Keanu Reeves and the recently resurrected Winona Ryder, have paired up for the anti-romantic comedy “Destination Wedding,“ and I would say that anyone who has ever thought about writing a film should watch this and be inspired. And when I say you will be inspired, it is because you will realize that literally anyone — presumably you and definitely me — could write a better movie than this, and potentially the guy from “The Matrix” will star in it. Dream big!
The concept is that these two attractive actors play two awful misanthropes attending the destination wedding of a mutual acquaintance. They meet in line to board a tiny plane to take them to the wedding and commence verbal sparring immediately. The entire film rests on the success of what I guess the writer thought was just terribly clever dialogue. It is clunky, sophomoric, unconvincing, obvious, painful and dreadful and our erstwhile film stars gave this word vomit the delivery it deserved. Which is to say, terrible.
Not that it matters, but Ryder came out slightly better as an utterly one-dimensional voice box than poor Reeves did. He is famous and/or infamous for a certain wooden style that was not served well here. Ryder at least gave it a flibberty-gibbet flair that made slightly more sense in the context of this nonsense.
The gimmick is that this unlikeable pair are the only people who talk in the film, and only to one another. Naturally, they are thrown together throughout the wedding weekend and we get their would- be snarky take on all the admittedly ludicrous activities surrounding them. Their backstory is that Ryder was engaged to the groom years ago, while Reeves is the groom’s estranged half-brother. They’ve heard of one another but never met, until we viewers are given a front-row seat.
This concept sounds so much more watchable than it is. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I hate weddings, I bet it’s hilarious!” It’s not. It’s not the “ironic” choice to foist two unlikable people on each other and make them eventually barely like each other that makes it a terrible movie. It’s the absolutely awful and never-funny dialogue in a film that is literally the only dialogue.
As Tim Gunn would say of a particularly lame fashion effort on “Project Runway,” this looked like student work. This was some very naïve person’s idea of what clever, mean people might sound like. The writer might worship in the church of hyper-verbal screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who also writes lots of lines that technically no one would ever say. Or maybe the writer is really just too nice and wasn’t able to successfully enter the mindset of two mean people.
So who on earth is the person who got this thing made? To my great surprise, his last name was neither “Ryder” nor “Reeves.” We have a writer-director named Victor Levin to blame for this wordy misadventure, whose resumé includes a couple of other small films I fortunately haven’t seen and a writing credit on that show “Mad About You.” This is an odd detail.
In addition to being unforgivably overwritten and flagrantly devoid of humor, “Destination Wedding” had that strange theatrical staginess that some movies have if they started out as a play, although this did not. It also looked like it cost about forty bucks to make. It’s not that I don’t “get” mean jokes. It’s that these weren’t funny.
Whatever excitement I might have felt at the pairing of these two was punished by one of the worst scripts I have ever witnessed on screen. Under-baked, overwritten and in need of many more drafts, I don’t know how “Destination Wedding” made it this far. So just hit “print” on whatever barely thought-out half concept you have for a film and get Winona on the phone. There’s no way to go but up from here.
“Destination Wedding” is currently available to rent.
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