“I have everything she wants: a husband and a child.”
That is an actual sentence uttered by a character in Jenny’s Wedding, a tonally deaf film to the times, a film about a group of largely insufferable characters who we’re forced to deal with for 90 minutes. Katherine Heigl and Tom Wilkinson try their very best to carry the weight of the entire film, but the parents and sister (Grace Gummer, playing my least favorite character in a film in ages) are so unlikeable and Alexis Bledel so bereft of charisma that despite it’s obvious good intentions, it falls flat.
It’s a Lifetime film with a bigger budget, but barely. Big moments are set to happily licensed pop songs, the same musical theme plays over emotional discussions. The film is tailor made–everything has a cue, the lines predictable before a character speaks them.
Directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue (Beaches) the films centers on Jenny (Heigl), who hasn’t told her family that she’s gay but is about to marry her long-term girlfriend Kitty (Bledel), swaying her into honesty. She’s afraid to tell them due to their old-fashioned sensibilities, and she faces the scrutiny and self-obsessed reactions she had feared. Her parents (Wilkinson and Linda Emond) don’t believe they’re homophobic except when it comes to their own daughter, and their annoyance doesn’t stem with her sexuality going against their personal beliefs but instead their social standing. They’re consumed with what their neighbors will think of them as parents, how could they “let that happen.”
I can’t tell you why we’re supposed to like these characters, so if you think of why, please feel free to let me know.
The movie moves forward with Jenny and her parents circling the same issues (scored to the same early 2000s-inspired soft pop song about five times) as Jenny, despite her parents essentially being massive assholes, continues to try and persuade them to see reason and be a part of her life while everyone in her family tells Jenny to go easy on them. Things happen, the music cues, and hugs and tears and declarations of love take place.
Maybe if the film had been salvageable in any area of its final product I would have been happier, but there is zero saving graces. The direction by Donoghue simply goes through the motions, never trying to tell the story with the camera (I cannot tell you how many montages there are of the cast doing mundane, household tasks) and the writing is insipid and contrived.
“Have you ever thought that by spending your life lying about who you are, you don’t learn who they are?”
That is the dialogue, the big moments of character insight, that our characters are forced to speak. There are numerous blowouts, with character background being forced into the narrative, hurt feelings over childhood bitterness. So much of the film spends its time criticizing Jenny for keeping her secret, despite the fact that her predictions of how her family would react come true.
I’m so enormously disappointed with how this film turned out. How refreshing would it be to see a simple, romantic comedy starring two women as the lead couple? Why did it need to be bogged down by the familial drama and the political discomfort they face? We’ve seen this! Films such as Imagine Me & You are so enjoyable because they’re light and charming and the main drama isn’t based on the character’s sexuality.
Jenny’s Wedding is outdated and a giant misfire. Bledel and Heigl share little chemistry, and the characters aren’t just grating but down right unlikeable–and it’s a story that hinges on the likeability of its characters. From a half-baked storyline for Gummer (who apparently is resentful and unhappy, something that is dropped on us like a brick rather than being introduced smoothly) to a rapid-fire conclusion, the film is a compiling of parts that simply don’t fit.