Susan Withee, Adult Services Department Manager
If you’re a fan of romantic comedies and wedding flicks both classic and irreverent, celebrate June, the wedding month, with movies from Manhattan Public Library.
Start with “Father of the Bride,” a comedy classic in which a father’s comfortable life quickly unravels as his daughter’s wedding approaches. Choose either the elegant and charming 1950 version, starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor, or the goofy but satisfying remake of 1998 starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Martin Short as the hilariously manic wedding coordinator.
Fans of big-screen musicals can check out “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954), starring Jane Powell with Howard Keel and a large supporting cast. The music and dance numbers are outsized and over the top and the story line a bit schmaltzy (hey, it’s a musical!), but it’s also a rollicking good time.
For a more recent take on movie musicals, “Mamma Mia” (2008) is the story of a bride-to-be’s search for her real father, all set improbably on a beautiful Greek island as the wedding venue and featuring the hits of ‘70s pop group ABBA. Suspend your disbelief, soak in the scenery, sing along, and enjoy! Starring Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Amanda Seyfried.
If you enjoy films with great ensemble casts, check out “In and Out” (1997) starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Tom Selleck, and Debbie Reynolds. It’s an endearing and hilarious small-town comedy of manners and mores with a subject of substance but a slapstick vibe. Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack are wonderful.
For outstanding romantic comedies with weddings in the story line, you can’t beat Julia Roberts’ films. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997), stars Julia Roberts as a commitment-phobic career woman who suddenly realizes, on the eve of his wedding, that she’s in love with her ex-boyfriend and best friend, played by Dermot Mulroney. Entanglements and schemes ensue as she tries to derail the marriage and win him back. Co-stars Cameron Diaz and Rupert Everett will win your heart.
Julia does it again in 1999’s “Runaway Bride.” Small town resident Maggie has been engaged multiple times but always bolts at the last minute, leaving her betrothed at the altar. Big city newpaper man Ike Graham (Richard Gere) writes a column ridiculing Maggie’s situation which earns her wrath and gets him fired. To redeem himself, Ike goes to Maggie’s home town to do an in-depth story and finds himself entangled in the life of the community and attracted to Maggie. The critics were lukewarm, but really, who cares? It’s a romantic comedy with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere! It’s fun and entertaining, and has a corny storybook ending.
Another delightful rom-com is “27 Dresses” (2008). Katherine Heigl stars as Jane, the perennial maid of honor with a closet full of themed bridesmaid dresses and a secret crush on her boss (Edward Norton). She despairs of being always a bridesmaid and never a bride, so she determines to change her life for good. James Marsden plays a rumpled, cynical reporter who confronts Jane with her wedding obsessions, even as he falls for her himself.
“A Wedding for Bella” (2001) starring Scott Baio (yes, Chachi!) is a film you’ve probably never heard of. Dominic is a successful corporate raider whose real love is working in the Italian bakery he owns with his brothers, watched over by elderly neighbors Bella and Massimo. When Dominic discovers Bella is sick, he is willing to do anything to make her happy, including marry her daughter Lucca. A delightful movie full of family, love, and amazing food.
More great movies with weddings (an eclectic list): “Four Weddings and a Funeral” with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell; “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” starring Nia Vardalos, Michael Constantine, and Andrea Martin; “Mystic Pizza,” a charming small-budget movie with Julia Roberts in her film debut; and “Diner,” another sleeper that has endured, with early-career performances by an unbelievable cast – Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, and Paul Reiser. If you haven’t seen these yet, you’re in for a treat.
Finally, in a category all their own, are the blockbuster, over-the-top buddy/romantic comedies “Wedding Crashers” with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, “Bridesmaids” starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy, and “The Wedding Singer” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Although probably not for those with delicate sensibilities or discerning cinematic tastes (you have been warned!), they are contemporary classics with legions of devoted fans who can watch them over and over and still laugh out loud. Enjoy.