Wedding Daze

Director: Michael Ian Black
Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Michael Weston

As I think I have managed to illustrate with the hundreds of reviews I have written for this web site, I have quite an adventurous side when it comes to motion pictures. Though that's not to say I freely jump in and watch any movie that comes my way. There's a part of me that reminds myself that some movies should be approached with caution, particularly those that happen to be Canadian. As it turns out, when I am not watching movies, that cautious side of my brain still stays with me with the various decisions that I make. Look before you leap, and better safe than sorry are two philosophies that I take to heart with many decisions that I make. It probably explains why I have been late or simply absent so far in making some important life decisions. One of these decisions has to do with marriage. As I write this, I have never been married, though after many years I am finally working on it with a special woman. To tell the truth, a lot of me is kind of glad that I didn't get married earlier in my life, because I have come across many statistics about marriage that suggest that the odds are more often than not stacked against those that get married at a younger age. For example, take the divorce rate. There has been some disagreement about how high the divorce rate is, but when you take the different opinions to find an average, that average suggests that half of all marriages end in divorce, moreso for those who married at a young age. That by itself is sobering, but what makes the prospect of marriage even more challenging is when you look at the couples that do stay together. The statistics say that of all couples that stay together, about thirty or so percent of those people would say that they are in unhappy marriages. So I consider myself very lucky to have waited and made careful preparations and plans for a future marriage.

I could dive into an examination of why so many marriages are unhappy or end in divorce, but that would take a lot of time, so I will just mention the number one reason so many marriages go sour - money problems. Anyway, with so many marriages going the wrong way for both participants, the question that comes up is what people can do to increase the chances of their marriage succeeding. From what I've seen, much of what can be done should be done before the marriage. Pre-martial counselling, where couples discuss major marriage issues from kids to finances, does very often seem to help give marriages a good foundation to stand on. Pre-nuptial agreements also often seem to be a good thing that couples should consider before saying "I do." But there are other things that people sometimes do before marriage to lay a good foundation, and some might be considered to be unusual. One such option that you have almost certainly heard of is letting your parents arrange a marriage for you with someone you don't know. It certainly has seemed to have worked for a lot of people, despite Apu from the television show The Simpsons protesting to his mother the statistics that one out of twenty-five arranged marriages end in divorce. The statistics don't lie that the divorce rate of arranged marriages is very low, but I have to confess that I often wonder how many of those arranged marriages have both participants feeling happy about being in the marriages. When you consider that divorce is more taboo in some cultures that practice arranged marriages, it makes you think some more.

There is a similar option that some people over the years have done, one that I would like to talk about. It's when a person by himself decides to marry a total stranger. It has happened more often than you might think. I remember years ago seeing a television report about a man and a woman Wedding Dazewho met during their lunch hour, got a marriage license a few minutes later, and then had a marriage ceremony. The report ended by saying the marriage was going well for both participants. This explains why when I came across the movie Wedding Daze with this premise, I did not feel it was especially silly. Certainly, the premise did interest me, but what really interested me was that it was a chance to get a clue as to why its star, Jason Biggs, drifted out of the minds of the general public just a few years after his breakthrough movie American Pie. The fact that Wedding Daze was released straight to DVD in North America despite being handled by a major Hollywood movie distributor (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) did suggest a reason, but I sat down to watch the movie anyway. Biggs plays a young man by the name of Anderson, a man who is unlucky when it comes to love. We learn that when he proposed to his long-time girlfriend in the past, the unusual way that he proposed to her unintentionally lead to her death. Months later, Anderson still can't get his dead girlfriend out of his mind, believing that she was the only one for him. Anderson's obsession somewhat peeves his best friend Ted (Michael Weston, Cherry Falls), who keeps urging Anderson to try and find a new woman to love. To get Ted off his back - and without really thinking about it - Anderson immediately proposes marriage to Katie (Isla Fisher, Home And Away), the waitress in the restaurant they happen to be in at the time. To everyone's surprise, Katie accepts, and in short notice Anderson and Katie are planning to walk down the aisle. But as you have almost certainly guessed, both Anderson and Katie soon come across some major obstacles - both expected and unexpected - which soon leads to the question: Can this engagement be saved?

I've never cared all that much about Jason Biggs in the movies I have seen him in during the past, and after reading about some of the things he's done off the silver screen, I care about him even less. All the same, I made an effort to put aside my prejudice when watching Wedding Daze, but as it turned out, I forgot more than my prejudice concerning Biggs whenever he was on the screen. Whenever he was onscreen, the biggest feeling that I got from Biggs was that of pretty much complete disinterest. There is a sour feeling coming from him, a feeling of coldness that gives his character no heart. He puts in an incredibly low amount of energy in every interaction, whether it be with his main co-star Isla Fisher or with the other members of the cast. Because of this, he manages to generate with Fisher pretty much no chemistry, whether the scene commands it to be romantic or heated. It's therefore a little incredible that despite being paired with the bored Biggs, Fisher does seem to be making some effort. Although her character Katie is a bit more subdued than you might think, she all the same gives Katie a relative sweetness, albeit one that can get irked at times, but at a level that is still palatable and gives her more of a multi dimensional personality. The character of Katie is one that believes in both true love and that sometimes crazy occurrences can work out for the best, and Fisher in these particular moments injects a lot of enthusiasm that makes you believe that she is feeling the pure joy that comes out of all the craziness that she is experiencing.

There are a few other performances in Wedding Daze that are worthy of mention, such as the amiable performance by Michael Weston as Biggs' somewhat sarcastic and incredulous best friend, and the amusing Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos) as Katie's convict father. But the entire cast can only do so much with the limited amount of background their characters have. For example, it's never revealed why Pantoliano's character went to prison in the first place, and why later in the movie after he escapes that he manages to immediately rekindle his relationship with Katie's remarried mother (Joanna Gleason, King Of The Hill). Indeed, when that start happening, the movie seems clueless as to what to do with the character of Katie's stepfather Stuart (Matt Malloy, Law & Order). The only reason why Stuart seems to be in the movie is to introduce a lot of eyebrow-raising Jewish themed humor, such as when earlier, Stuart shows Bigg's character a toy he designed called a "Jewahoop". I'm sure from that questionable gag, many of you have already guessed the general level of humor in this movie, but I'll still talk about it for a bit. To its credit, the humor of the movie is never extremely raunchy and/or repulsive despite the movie getting an "R" rating, though the few sexual gags that earn the movie its rating seem to stick out like sore thumb in the otherwise restrained storyline. A bigger problem is that the gags never get inspired enough to generate any real laughs or even mild titters. A guy trained from the circus seen swallowing a sword simply isn't funny at all, nor is the sight of a Soviet-era car producing a lot of smoke as it clutters down a street. You'll also be able to guess the punchlines of many comic setups as soon as they start unfolding on screen if you have seen your fair share of comedies over the years as I have. If I see one more gag in a movie where a character says with great conviction that he'll absolutely not do something, but then the movie immediately cuts to him.., well, I will... (Maybe it's best if here I immediately cut to the next paragraph.)

Another reason why the humor in Wedding Daze falls flat is that the movie's writer/director Michael Ian Black can't seem to generate all that much energy. It's not just with Bigg's performance, but also with things like the general narrative. While I was certainly glad that the movie wasn't as hyper as many other modern-day Hollywood comedies are, the movie is often so laid back that the movie seems afraid of yukking it up long and loud. Also, Black seems to be afraid of putting in some real obstacles for the two lead characters to face and subsequently deal with in a comic fashion. It's learned that the character of Katie already has a fiancÚ, but the movie not only has this character disappear for a long time, his anger and danger are diffused extremely quickly once he pops up again, and then he's shoved aside again. Black does somewhat better with the serious moments of the movie, mainly when the two leads are alone and dealing with issues they can't escape from easily. The low-key attitude that he generally gives the movie does work with these scenes, enough so that I started to think that had the movie been generally treated with seriousness, we might have had a gentle but compelling drama on our hands. But we would still have to deal with the disappointing technical side of the presentation, with the movie's production values looking somewhat shabby and limited. Small wonder then of the aforementioned fact that the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio cancelled their original theatrical plans for Wedding Daze; I am sure that the studio executives, upon screening the movie, had some serious objections to this wedding.

(Posted March 10, 2023)

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See also: Bunny O'Hare, I.Q., Surrender