July 18, 1997 in Seven

Heavy-Handed ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ Fails In Nearly Every Way

By The Spokesman-Review
 

In one sense, “Wedding Bell Blues” is a woman’s version of “Swingers.” Only without the humor.

Which is pretty sad when you consider that it’s supposed to be a romantic comedy.

The plot, which was co-dreamed up by director Dana Lustig and screenwriter Annette Holiti Gutierrez, involves three friends - Jasmine, Tanya and Micki - all of whom are on the cusp of turning 30 and, maybe not just coincidentally, are in the midst of a terrible time.

Micki (Julie Warner) has just been dumped by her boyfriend because she has no passion. Tayna (Paula Porizkova) is pregnant by a guy who doesn’t really want to have a family, much less get married to her.

And Jasmine (Illeana Douglas) - well, Jasmine can’t find the guy who wants her for more than just the occasional night of incredible sex.

So what do they do? They decide to go to Las Vegas and find husbands.

Just for the night, mind you. They plan (well two of the three, at least) to get divorced the next day. That way they’ll be able to say that, if nothing else, they didn’t reach 30 unmarried.

Of course, the night doesn’t turn out the way any of them plan. And, in the end, lessons are learned all around.

All things considered, decent movies have evolved from worse ideas. The problem here is that first-time director Lustig hasn’t a clue about how to make a film. In terms of cinematography, in terms of setting a scene, in terms of pacing, plot, dialogue and even in terms of acting (despite the presence of some talented performers), “Wedding Bell Blues” is no better than a second-tier refugee from the film-festival circuit.

There are a few moments to appreciate. Porizkova’s moment of truth with her intended white knight, ably played by Charles Martin Smith, is touching. As is Douglas’ rooftop night of fun with a man who “reeks of engineer.”

But they, and a few others, are easily overpowered by a film that is as subtle as its bad-disco musical score. By a casting process that asks us to believe that regal Porizkova could be pathetic enough to cry over frog-like (if reasonably talented) Richard Edson. By a film set in Las Vegas that doesn’t even try to avoid the most obvious cliches.

Anyone up for a singing Elvis chapel?

“Wedding Bell Blues” doesn’t offer a slice of life for us to ponder. It offers only caricature.

No way does it swing, babies.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “Wedding Bell Blues” Location: Magic Lantern Cinemas Credits: Co-written and directed by Dana Lustig, starring Illeana Douglas, Paulina Porizkova, Julie Warner, John Corbett, Jonathan Penner, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Edson, Joseph Urla Running time: 1:51 Rating: R

This sidebar appeared with the story: “Wedding Bell Blues” Location: Magic Lantern Cinemas Credits: Co-written and directed by Dana Lustig, starring Illeana Douglas, Paulina Porizkova, Julie Warner, John Corbett, Jonathan Penner, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Edson, Joseph Urla Running time: 1:51 Rating: R


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