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Out At The Wedding
cast: Andrea Marcellus, Desi Lydic, Charlie Schlatter, Cathy DeBuono, and Mike Farrell

director: Lee Friedlander

96 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
TLA DVD Region 2 retail
[released 19 October]

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Barbara Davies
As you might already have guessed from that 'out' in the film's title, this romantic comedy of misunderstandings and lies has a lesbian twist. When Alex Houston (Andrea Marcellus) returns to South Carolina for the wedding of her competitive younger sister Jeannie (Desi Lydic) with her gay best friend Jonathan (Charlie Schlatter), he sets the reception abuzz. A wedding guest's misinterpretation of Jonathan's remark that Alex is "not his type" combined with Alex's own drunken sister-of-the-bride speech leaves everyone with the impression that Alex's airline pilot fiancé Dana (the unisex name is crucial) is a Jewish, African-American lesbian. Cue one shocked-but-trying-to-be-understanding father (Mike Farrell) and an upstaged sister.

When a curious Jeannie, back off her honeymoon, comes to visit Alex in New York to 'get to know your lifestyle', rather than admit the truth, Alex hires lesbian Risa Kramer (Cathy DeBuono) to play the part of 'Dana'. The real Dana's parents (Mink Stole and Reginald VelJohnson) are understandably concerned when they encounter their son's fiancé with someone who is apparently her girlfriend outside a gay bar. And as if things weren't complicated enough, Risa and Jeannie are strongly attracted to one another. Jeannie has a track record of stealing Alex's boyfriends, and newlywed or not, it looks like she may be after her older sister's 'girlfriend', too...

The film gets off to a slightly uneven start, as it takes a while for the comic tone to gel and for Marcellus to get comfortable in her leading role, and Mystro Clark's Dana is frankly rather bland. Fortunately, Farrell (Locusts, M*A*S*H on TV), Stole, and VelJohnson provide assured, humorous support as the respective parents, and Lydic also manages to give the initially shallow Jeannie hidden depths. The film gets its second wind when Cathy DeBuono strides onstage. Even if her introduction is risible (this is the kind of film where someone says: "It's not like a lesbian's going to fall from the sky," and then a lesbian promptly does), DeBuono gives Risa confidence and charisma, and the onscreen chemistry between her and Lydic is palpable. The subplot involving Jonathan and the doughy Kenny is less successful in spite of a perky performance from Schlatter (Bright Lights, Big City), partly because manipulating one's unsuspecting boyfriend's food intake is not something to admire, and partly because the straight woman's gay best friend has become something of a film cliché.

Out At The Wedding reminded me of those witty screwball comedies from the 1930s and 1940s in which one of the protagonists tries (usually unnecessarily) to keep something a secret only to wind up getting progressively more entangled in a web of deceit. The audience knows it will all work out fine in the end though. Like those films this is totally preposterous, but if you approach it in the right frame of mind it's also a great deal of fun.
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