Director: Dean Craig | Runtime: 1h 40mins | Comedy, Romance
In alternate versions of the same day, Jack (Sam Claflin) must deal with numerous problems at his sister’s wedding, all while trying to reconnect with a girl he met 3 years prior.
The opening monologue of Dean Craig’s British romcom starts with astronomical visions of the solar system, using a Judi Dench-esque voice to spout about chance, in particular the old adage that it only takes one thing for it all to go ‘tits up’. Which is ironic, as Love Wedding Repeat never really commits to it’s conceptual promise. Attempting to blend the awkward humour of Craig’s previous work Death at a Funeral (2007) with the high-concept resurgence of Groundhog Day (1993), the film never really lives up to either. Despite a pretty fantastic British cast (as well as Olivia Munn), there is nothing they can to do to salvage relevance from it’s selling point, the concept.
The story doesn’t actually start it’s concept until about 40 minutes in, actually giving us a decent amount of laughs in the introductory scenes between characters, letting the actors flex their comedic chops and set up the numerous plot points in order for the latter part of the movie to succeed. The film begins when main character Jack (Sam Claflin) is tasked with sedating his sister’s former lover by spiking his glass at the wedding. But when mischievous kids switch the name cards, it opens up a plethora of outcomes.
The success of the concept has been revitalised in previous years by Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and Netflix’s Russian Doll (2019-), but where Craig’s movie differs slightly, is that instead of a single character in on the story, it simply repeats it’s story with a number of alternative endings. Well, you might believe it to be a ‘number’ of endings like the astronomical opening hints at, but instead we get to see just two of the promised realities. One is the worst-case scenario, and of course followed by the much cheerier best-case scenario. We are treated to some quick montages of the other realities but they are never really given any juice. Here in lies the problem with the film, lacking the commitment to it’s own concept and leaving the story in a purgatorial state between classic British romcom and the high-concept it’s shallowly presenting.
The movie is held together by it’s cast, who all give their characters something to chew on and in doing so, make the humour worthwhile.
The romance comes from Jack’s attempts to reconnect with Olivia Munn’s Dina, who he spent the weekend with just 3 years prior. There is chemistry between the two, but for a movie set at a wedding in a gorgeous Rome backdrop the romance is a little lackluster, even following the tropes of a classic romcom can’t save an unfortunate lack of pay off. Again, the movie is caught between two worlds, letting it’s romance suffer for it’s gags, one scene sees a near-sedated Jack listening to Dina’s terminal cancer story, only for him to fall asleep. Another has the boring and kilt-wearing Sidney (played respectably by Tim Key) attempt to ‘woo’ Dina himself. While the gags do occasionally work, sometimes the rest of the movie suffers the consequences.
The movie is held together (within reason) by it’s cast, who all give their characters something to chew on and in doing so, make the humour worthwhile. Eleanor Tomlinson plays the Bride, capturing the frantic panic as her ‘special day’ quickly goes south. Olivia Munn is wonderfully charming and actually provides some much needed layers to her ‘American Girl’ archetype, and the film logically finds comfort in British TV heavyweights Allan Mustafa, Aisling Bea and Plebs (2013-) star Joel Fry. But it’s Sam Claflin who surprises the most, who’s charm has always been obvious, but convincingly plays the awkward and bumbling idiot quite well. Maybe not to the level of a peak Hugh Grant, but there is certainly reason to believe that he could one day get to that height in the right film.
For all it’s righteous casting decisions though, Love Wedding Repeat is an unholy mesh of conflicting tones that never really commits to one. Yes there is humour, and it may even make you laugh out loud, but it sacrifices it’s own romance to do so. As for the concept, it feels far too shallow to justify it’s own existence, leaving the question as to whether this would have been better as a straight-laced love story instead.