Destination Wedding

After the horror genre made a pretty good comeback in the past couple of years, now we see another longtime fan favorite stepping back into the spotlight, the rom-com. The romantic comedies were rather absent from the movie screens lately, and the little what we did get was of rather poor quality. Enters this summer season with 3 titles, all of which are, the very least, solid movies. Crazy Rich Asians, To All The Boys I’ve Loved and Destination Wedding. To be fair, I have only seen the last 2, since CRA was not screened in my country and I will have to wait until it comes out on digital. But let us talk now about the movie at hand, Destination Wedding. Two strangers meet in an airport, waiting for a flight, take an immediate dislike to each other only to find out that they are traveling to the same wedding. As if attending a wedding alone would not be a miserable enough experience on its own, our 2 protagonists are apparently stuck together through the entire duration of the event, for our viewing pleasure.

Now, the story in itself is not new. Just by watching the trailer you can tell what will happen and how it will end. It is pretty much paint by numbers. What matters here is not the originality, but the execution, which is not flawless, but it is pretty darn good. Besides the 2 leads, no other character gets any screen time. They are showed from a distance, and referred to, but none of them have any lines in the movie. This is good, because it keeps the movie clutter free. There are no ridiculous subplots, not annoying side characters. The focus is on our 2 leads and on them only. To makes this work you have to have some good talent in front of the camera, which of course Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are, and then some. Destination Wedding is the 4th movie they do together and it shows on their on-screen chemistry. The interaction between the two is natural, seamless. They are a great on-screen pair and the material allows them to have fun. Both of their characters are loners and intellectuals, and in any other circumstance, they would avoid each other like the plague. But here, they are exposed to each other’s quirks and ideas and they drive each other up the walls, yet they stick together because they agree on one thing, which is that they would rather be anywhere else but here at this wedding. So, the entire movie is a set of conversations that the 2 are having during the event. The way the 2 are exchanging jabs and puns, ironies and sarcasm at each other is delightful. Like a very good tennis game, only with words and sentences.

But, here in lies the problems as well. The split of the material between the 2 leads is uneven. Reeves has more one liners and puns than Ryder. Also, his backstory is more fleshed out. It is his family that we get to know trough the conversations, his parents are presented as lunatics, his brother is the groom in the wedding and the lynch pin that binds the protagonists, as it is also the brother who invited Ryder’s character to the wedding, since they were previously engaged. The script holds nothing for Ryder on this level. She has opinions, hopes, reactions, but very little substance. Ryder manages to come off as Reeves equal in this movie, but this is only because of her acting talent, nothing else. The second problem this movie has is its inevitable conclusion and the way it has chosen to deal with it. Consider it spoilers if you want to, but it is fairly obvious from the trailers alone that the 2 mains will end up together. And while the buildup for this is long and fun, once the love threshold is crossed, the movie doesn’t really knows what to do any longer. The witty conversations are exchanged to some form of courtship, which comes off as awkward. Suddenly the characters change gear and start behaving like completely different people, which really messes up the otherwise steady flow of the movie. Mercifully, by this point the movie is almost over, but yeah, they could have done a better ending.

Overall, this is a solid little film. It is smart enough to stand out but light enough to be enjoyable. It has a 90 minute runtime, which is just enough not to drag things out and the pace is steady all the way through, except for the final 10 minutes or so, where it gets a bit bland. But all in all, a solid choice for an evening at home.

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