Before I start my review, I realize that probably “everyone” has seen this film but me (until now). I had heard of the film to be sure, but the “R” rating tended to keep me away from it. As I have become more open-minded in the past year or so, I decided to give this film a try. (It also stars one of my all-time favorite actresses–Andie MacDowell.) While there is some profanity and a bedroom scene or two, I have to admit that I didn’t find myself overly offended. Furthermore, I was thoroughly entertained and completely charmed by this film. Although this is an adult in nature, I found that any objections I may have had (which I discovered I really didn’t) far outweighed the sheer delight of viewing this film.
First of all, one must understand that this is a British comedy. If you are unfamiliar with this genre, it is often more subtle than the sometimes brash American humor to which we are so accustomed. When watching this film, one must be on the lookout for class humor (in other words the distinction between societal classes) as well as linguistic humor. When done well, like it is in this movie, it becomes virtual perfection on-screen and sometimes even funnier than our American comedies.
When I read the name Rowan Atkinson in the credits, I began to rack my brain–who was he? I knew that name. Before I could even finish my informational quest, I silently thanked my English friend for introducing me to the wonderful world of Blackadder so many years ago. Oh, I know that in this country Rowan Atkinson is recognized more for Mr. Bean and even the voice of Zazu in Lion King (I forgot that one–I had to look it up), I was fortunate enough to see many of the episodes of the side-splitting humor of Blackadder, and the moment Rowan took his place as Father Gerald during the second wedding, it was clear I was in for a treat. In some ways, it’s almost worth looking up this movie for just his uproarious performance alone (ah but wait–there’s even more–keep reading). While his part is small, it is almost nonstop laughter for the duration. Absolutely brilliant is this man!
The two main stars of the film are Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, and as far as I’m concerned, they are the main reasons to watch the film from the beginning to the end. Now I am well aware of the fact that there are other fantastic actors in this film–after all there are some absolutely delightfully sweet and completely uncomfortable scenes that all add their own brand of humor. But for me, it is through the eyes of this couple (mainly Charles) that we see the world of these four weddings and a funeral.
Now this was before Hugh Grant became the household name and Hollywood heartthrob for which he is known today. While he is quite cute and acts his part with great skill, it is quite different to see him as the bumbling, “not cool”, “can’t-keep-a-girl” role of yesteryear. He is positively enchanting in this film, however, and his comedic timing is completely impeccable. While he was not new to the acting world when he made this film, it was this role that established him within the this community.
I love the fact that his character comes off as being so naive, but he can come out with the suggestive jokes and display his experience with but a few well-timed words. While some of the humor is rather bawdy, I have to admit I was captivated and truly never offended. I was able to catch most of the subtleties in his well-timed humor, but it does require the viewer to listen carefully and truly concentrate on the scene at hand. Again, if you are looking for snappy humor, you may wish to look elsewhere.
Now although I had been warned, I was still unprepared for Andie’s short hair in this film. In every picture of her I have ever seen, she always has that simply gorgeous, characteristic long hair. Not so in this role. And you know what? She looks absolutely stunning with short or long hair–Andie MacDowell is one of those rare creatures who looks resplendent no matter her hair, clothing style, make-up, etc because she possesses that inner beauty that just radiates out. I adore her short hair style–thoroughly precious and fits this character of Carrie well.
What I appreciate most about Andie’s acting in this role is that first of all, she’s an American who is able to keep pace with the indirect delivery of British humor. Then again, I honestly don’t think there is a role Andie couldn’t play if she didn’t put her mind to it as her versatility knows no bounds.
Furthermore, I am overwhelmed with the way she is able to pull off this supposedly bright, fresh, and almost virginal character who seems to be as naive as they come (until she enters a bedroom) who has had more experience with men than most women I know (hence her blemished reputation). In truth, when Andie’s character is recounting to Hugh’s character her sordid past with men, she delivers it so consummately that again I was not disturbed in any way. Instead it was such perfection that I found it comical, and even felt a little sorry for her character.
In probably the most iconic scene from the movie, the chemistry between Andie and Hugh is practically legendary. But then again, I have never not seen Andie have chemistry with an actor. Andie is always capable of putting every actor at ease in a relatively short period of time, and her professionalism causes her to rise to the occasion of whatever role she is playing or with whomever she may be romancing (or being romanced) on screen. I have yet to hear any disparaging remarks from any of her co-stars (I’m sure they exist but I would say they are few and far between), and an unsullied reputation like that as well as the humility that courses through this woman’s veins just makes everyone (at least everyone who counts) absolutely love her. Indeed the years have been kind to her, and she has never lost the indubitable ladylike qualities that she possessed even back in this earlier part of her career. The more I watch this sweet and lovely person on the screen, the more I cherish and admire her not just as an actress, but as a humanitarian, an ambassador of peace, and above all, a truly lovely lady.
So if you are prepared to watch an unparalleled modern classic, this is definitely a film to view. I seriously doubt it will fail to impress.
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