If you long for the 90s—when Euro-set rom-coms were all the rage (Only You, Love Actually, Forget Paris, etc.)—but wished they were infinitely crasser and included a Sliding Doors-esque alternate universe, well… I’m still not sure the Netflix original Love Wedding Repeat would be worth your time.
Written and directed by British TV vet Dean Craig, the film certainly has its heart (along with several unmentionable body parts) in the right place and is even an occasionally fun diversion in these days of self-quarantine and face masks. For the most part, though, Love Wedding Repeat is (aptly enough, given the title) a retread of a lot of things that have come before, including The (UK) Office, Groundhog Day, and, most obviously, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Sure, individually, all three of those are among the better offerings of the past two decades, but when their bits are stolen and then cobbled together into an all-too-predictable (and ultimately gimmicky) attempt to be fresh and inventive, the end result can’t help but fall as flat as a bride’s hair on a rainy day.
Speaking of brides, Eleanor Tomlinson fills that role here as the lovely Hayley. It’s her wedding day, and she’s prepping to tie the knot with her Italian beau Roberto (Tiziano Caputo) at a gorgeous villa outside Rome. Hayley’s brother Jack (Sam Claflin) is on hand for moral support, and she also has her Maid of Honor to lean on—despite the fact he’s a man (Joel Fry, essentially reprising his bumbling idiot role from last year’s Yesterday). The rest of the key players are naturally a peanut gallery of misfits, including an obnoxious, mismatched couple (Frida Pinto and Allan Mustafa), a loner weirdo (Tim Key), and the bride’s uninvited and coked-up ex Marc (Jack Farthing).
All is going as smoothly as it can in a Brit-born comedy of errors until Hayley notices Marc. She convinces Jack to spike the twit’s champagne, in the hope that he will sleep through the event without making a scene. As luck (or lazy writing) would have it, however, someone else takes the generous dose, setting off a string of mishaps that concludes with the wedding ending in a shambles.
Or so we think. As the frame freezes halfway through the film, our narrator ponders what things would have been like if they’d gone differently. And then we get to see for ourselves, which brings us to the “Repeat” bit mentioned in the title. This time around Jack mistakenly doses himself, and the wedding takes another track before arriving at its all-too-predictable gooey ending.
To be sure, Love Wedding Repeat does have its bright points—for every three or four jokes that land with a thud (many of which involve all aspects of male genitalia), one actually works, and Claflin and Fry do both turn in strong work to help keep it all afloat. Olivia Munn, playing the Andie MacDowell role (the American who mystifies the bumbling Brit) steals the show, though, and Aisling Bea (last seen as Paul Rudd’s wife in Netflix’s Living with Yourself) makes the most of her too-generic character.
Clearly writer-director Craig, though, has been inspired over the years by some of those better rom-coms, but there’s a difference between suggestion and outright lifting, and the fact that he can’t seem to grasp the difference may just leave you thinking often about how you’ve seen many parts of Love Wedding Repeat done better elsewhere. Though not exactly worth distancing yourself from (socially or otherwise), it’s a film that winds up being little more than a Saturday afternoon Netflix-and-shrug option.