Who doesn’t love a good dysfunctional family comedy? The People We Hate at the Wedding comes gifted at a perfect time of year, just before Thanksgiving and well in advance of the commercialized inundation of Christmastime. Bringing together an ensemble of excellent actors, I was instantly drawn in by their chemistry with one another. Allison Janney’s Donna is the tether, serving as the family matriarch and carrying a certain motherly warmth to her. I think this is a movie that will speak to a lot of people, one that you can simply pop on for some easy-watching, simple entertainment around the holiday season for several good giggles accompanied by a comforting glass of hot cocoa.
This family isn’t exactly one’s standard clan. Eloise, the youngest daughter of Donna and her horrible ex-husband, Henrique, has lived a sort of privileged life between two worlds. Henrique is a pompously wealthy Brit, while Donna’s second husband, Bill, is more a standard douchey fatherly figure. Sassy and sarcastic Paul (Ben Platt) and abrasive Type-A Alice are Donna’s next two children, the half-siblings of Eloise. Now, many years later, Eloise’s wedding is on the horizon. The invitations have gone out. They will all have to come to England, and Alice has been invited to be the maid of honor! There’s just one major problem: the entire family has not been together since Bill’s death.
They are all, by any count, pretty much estranged from one another. Paul is completely dodging his mother’s calls, while living out a rocky relationship with his annoyingly pushy boyfriend, Dominic (Karan Soni). Alice is assistant to affluent architect Jonathan (Jorma Taccone), whom she is also regularly screwing in the back offices, despite the fact that he is married with a newborn baby. Donna has given up a bit, still reeling from the loss of her husband, yet trying to remain overly optimistic and attempting to put her full energy into Eloise’s wedding. The siblings each appear to debate actually going the distance to London, but finally fate presents an opportunity. They take separate plane rides, and Alice’s journey is a particularly noteworthy one. She brazenly upgrades herself to first class, wherein Alice meets Paddington-obsessed cutie, Dennis (Dustin Milligan).
This wedding may be the ideal time to reconnect! Could it be that easy? Alice has a deep emotional scar that is still raw and unaccounted between Eloise, Paul was always jealous of Eloise and her status, and Donna’s feelings towards Henrique are rekindled when he hits her up out of the blue proclaiming his excitement to see her at the wedding. Donna’s glee in this sequence is contagious, as her reactions to this and subsequent approaches from Henrique are made believable thanks to Janney’s wonderful performance. The sibling dynamic is strong, especially between Paul and Alice, who seem similarly snarky.
Of course, every step of the way to the actual wedding culminates in some kind of disastrous family affair. The rehearsal dinner is cause for drunken escapades, unwelcome guests, and rowdy confrontations. A bachelorette party gone hilariously awry pairs well against Paul’s signature attempts in appeasing Dominic by agreeing to stay with a much older businessman who may or may not desire a threesome. Eloise struggles in a side-story of her own, trying to manage her own emotions around her difficult family members as her wedding day fast approaches. My favorite sibling story was that of Alice, who undergoes the most significant amount of personal growth. Her romantic fling with Dennis colors the movie in Schitts Creek pedigree thanks to Milligan’s presence.
For anyone in the need of a good-natured giggle or a Taco Bell meltdown, The People We Hate at the Wedding is the perfect movie. A cringe-comedy flavor brings relatable humor to often complex situations. The script from Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin and Wendy Molyneux (Bob’s Burgers, Deadpool 3) and based on the book by Grant Ginder never forgets the importance of family at the movie’s core. Of course, The People We Hate at the Wedding is by no means perfect; however, it may have been fun and charming enough to win over my heart.
The People We Hate at the Wedding crashes the Amazon Prime party when it debuts on Friday, November 18th.