My “Cinema Clash” podcast partner Charlie asked if I had watched Love Wedding Repeat on Netflix yet, suggesting it was a “Hannah movie.” In theory, he was right. It’s a chick flick, a romantic comedy with a potentially engaging premise, and British actor Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Adrift, Journey’s End) channeling the RomCom sensibilities of Hugh Grant. Given the dearth of new releases during the current pandemic, I figured it was worth checking out. Sadly, I was the one checking out mentally as the 100-minute movie meandered along at a surprisingly slow pace. I kept waiting for the plot to kick in. Or the romance. Or the comedy. Love Wedding Repeat is short on all three. Claflin’s chops – and charm – are sorely wasted. Even the film’s backdrop – Italy! – is wasted, as most of the “action” takes place during an indoor wedding reception.
Here’s the gist: Claflin plays a guy named Jack who seems destined to sabotage his own chance at happiness in order to help others achieve theirs. His sister’s wedding provides the perfect opportunity for Jack to reconnect with “the one that got away,” his sister’s American friend Dina (Olivia Munn), a war journalist he met briefly three years earlier. But a series of unfortunate circumstances involving his seatmates at “Table Four” constantly undermine his efforts. Obstacles include his angry ex-girlfriend Amanda (Freida Pinto), her insecure boyfriend Chaz (Allan Mustafa), the bride’s cokehead ex-BF, a few random friends, and a sedative that is supposed to go in one person’s drink but lands in another. A voiceover informs us there are “thousands of ways eight people can sit around a table” – prompting a quick montage of alternate scenarios involving the table guests, their romantic interests, and the sedative. In other words, love and happiness are a game, dictated by luck and chance.
Love Wedding Repeat reminded me of another movie focused on a random set of people at a wedding reception – 2017’s Table 19, with Anna Kendrick. I don’t remember it all that well but I think it was slightly better.
You can’t have a good romantic comedy without some good ol’ fashioned romantic chemistry. And that’s ultimately where Love Wedding Repeat really falls short. There simply isn’t any.
This week happens to mark the 25th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite romantic comedy dramas, While You Were Sleeping. That’s a “Hannah movie”. It’s got a great cast with great chemistry, and that perfect blend of heart, humor, drama and romance. Consider revisiting that one instead. Even if its repeat viewing. Love Wedding Repeat simply can’t compete.