Billy Connolly famously surmised, “Marriage is a wonderful invention. Then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.”
His cynical words would certainly strike a chord with the church-bound characters in ‘The Wedding Video’, an uproarious comedy of appalling manners that witnesses a relationship come apart at the seams through the lens of the best man’s omnipresent camera.
Nigel Cole’s film amuses and charms in equal measure, relying on the excellent comic timing of the ensemble British cast led by Rufus Hound, who makes his big screen debut.
Scriptwriter Tim Firth, who previously penned Calendar Girls, spares the characters few blushes as excitement and expectation turns to anguish and despair, laced with tender romance.
Despite assurances to the groom that there will be “no swearing and no nudity”, Hound dances naked on a river bank, cusses like a trooper and gets very friendly with an expensive throw rug.
He’s an appealing narrator, who responds to one girl’s compliment about him being a good listener by confiding, “Compassion is nature’s way of helping ugly men find a partner.”
Shambolic oaf Raif (Hound) decides to make a video of his estranged brother’s forthcoming nuptials as a present to the bride and groom.
“Buy a camera, press button, shoot wedding. It all sounded so simple,” Raif confides in voiceover.
The laconic best man turns up at the door of his brother Tim (Robert Webb), determined to immortalise every aspect of the preparations.
The first surprise comes when Raif learns that Tim is engaged to Saskia (Lucy Punch), a booze-swigging wild child who was the scourge of their school.
Saskia has been polished into a refined, young lady by her well-to-do mother, Alex (Harriet Walter), a doyenne of the Cheshire social set, who is determined that the big day will dazzle like her other soirees.
“The buffet for Famine Relief was amazing,” dreamily recalls one of Alex’s friends.
Raif is introduced to other members of the clan, including Saskia’s xenophobic grandmother (Miriam Margolyes).
As he spends more time with the soon-to-wed couple, Raif glimpses tiny cracks in their relationship.
“I think it’s important we document so me of the speed bumps on the path to the happy day,” he assures Tim and Saskia.
‘The Wedding Video’ captures the frenzied whirl in the weeks leading up to the “I do”, when even the tiniest setback can tip the bride or groom over the edge.
Webb and Punch are well matched as the happy couple and Walter purses her lips with gusto as she heaps extravagance upon garish finishing touch to trump her rivals.
Belly laughs walk down the aisle with touching sentiment and while there’s a certain inevitability to the climactic emotional devastation, it’s a bow to convention we merrily toast.
Star Rating: 3½