Review by Sean Boelman
When a film takes place in a picturesque location and features a starry cast and a script that isn’t particularly substantial, one has to wonder if the movie is little more than an excuse for the actors to take a paid vacation. Even though that certainly seems to be the case with Sister of the Groom, it’s still pretty charming in a lighthearted way.
The film follows a woman on the cusp of turning forty who makes it her mission to undermine her brother’s wedding to a young French woman, causing their personalities to clash. This wedding crasher premise has been done many times before, but filmmaker Amy Miller Gross wisely tries to mostly avoid physical comedy, instead focusing on the protagonist’s arc.
Much of the movie feels like a series of scenes that are loosely woven together rather than a more unified narrative. There are a lot of funny and endearing moments, but the frame by which it is bound isn’t super satisfying. As a result, even though it is mostly harmless and jovial, the film also ends up feeling largely forgettable.
Where the movie does succeed is in giving the protagonist a solid arc. Granted, the idea of using someone else’s wedding as an opportunity for personal growth is undeniably selfish and admittedly a bit off-putting. Yet despite this, Gross’s approach to the character feels very earnest and makes the story surprisingly resonant.
However, there is a fundamental issue with the film and it is that it does not seem to address the toxicity. In wedding movies with a lot of physical comedy, there is usually a point at which the protagonist becomes embarrassed over their actions. That moment has a much weaker presence here, and as a result, the character’s growth isn’t as strong.
The film does feature a pretty excellent cast, even if not all of them are fully utilized. Alicia Silverstone makes for a funny and charismatic lead, and it’s nice to see her in the lead again after having done a few years in supporting roles. The late Mark Blum has some great moments, as do Tom Everett Scott and Jake Hoffman, but one will wish to have seen more of them.
As is the case with a lot of these destination wedding movies, this is gorgeous to look at. Gross knows that she is shooting pretty people in pretty places, and so it doesn’t take much to make it aesthetically pleasing. And now that travel has been restricted, it’s a solid bit of escapism to see these lovely settings.
Sister of the Groom isn’t anything special, but it looks good and has enough laughs and heart to be worth a watch. It’s a solid distraction for ninety minutes before moving on to the next movie that is sure to be more noteworthy.
Sister of the Groom hits theaters and VOD on December 18.
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