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Much of the online excitement over the repairing of Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder has little to do with their previous onscreen couplings and more to do with what they symbolise about a decade and a half in film. Does anyone really remember Francis Ford Coppola’s opulent imagining of Dracula for their stiff, awkwardly accented, chemistry-free scenes together? Was Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly known predominantly as a vehicle for the two stars to showcase their rapport? Did they even share a scene in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee? Or instead, is there just an abundance of nostalgic thirst for a film focused entirely around Veronica Sawyer/Lelaina Pierce/Lydia Deetz hanging out with Ted/Johnny Utah/Jack Traven?
It’s why there was such giddiness over a recent viral story that suggested the pair might actually have accidentally got married while filming Dracula. For many of us, they’re an extension of our youth, like absurdly attractive, staggeringly rich popular kids from school we envied from afar. Their reappearance transports us back to the heyday of their disaffected cool and any 90s kid inevitably enters their fourth film together with some unavoidable baggage. For such Reeves and Ryder fetishists, there’s plenty here to moon over, given that in Destination Wedding, they share more screentime than their other three outings combined.
The reason for this is a rather nifty, if restrictive, gimmick that posits the pair in a variety of situations yet refuses to listen in on anything else happening outside of their interactions. It’s a bit like watching a play with just two characters, an 88-minute chamber piece, the enjoyment of which will depend on one’s tolerance for the duo. Given that they’re both playing bitchy misanthropes judging those around them, it’s also a bit like watching a nastier, sexier Statler and Waldorf let loose at a wedding. The nuptials in question are happening at a remote Californian location and the film opens with Frank (Reeves) and Lindsay (Ryder) meeting at the airport, developing an almost instant mutual disgust.
They’re appalled to be going to a wedding, let alone a selfishly designed destination wedding, and the ensuing action, or rather lack thereof, sees them slowly bonding over their hatred for the world around them.
It’s not unusual to see a romantic comedy that is a) set a wedding and b) unfolding between two characters who initially hate each other, but Destination Wedding does manage to spin these tired cliches into something somewhat fresh. While the backdrop is familiar, the script’s bracing cynicism turns it into a hellscape for our leads, who balk at the extravagance on display. Given that we’re not even given the chance to meet the bride and groom, all we have is acerbic commentary provided by two people who hate them both and most of the other guests while they’re at it. Writer-director Victor Levin, who brought similarly astute rat-a-tat dialogue to the underrated TV comedy Survivor’s Remorse, taps into that clandestine thrill of quietly berating those around you with someone who’s on the same, bitter page.
While some of the dialogue does border on overwritten (“Why would you want me to perpetuate my circumstances?” etc), there’s enough wit and finely observed pedantry to make up for the occasional indulgence. In a slight film that’s almost wall-to-wall dialogue the pair criticise everything from each other to people who confuse formally with formerly to political correctness to wine bottles with screw tops to those assholes who take a free sample of salami at the supermarket and then drop the toothpick on the floor after. Such a barrage of unending nastiness might not be to everyone’s taste, and at times it can get a bit grating, but if you’ve suffered through enough weddings as a singleton, it might prove to be a rather addictive tonic.
The pair share an easy, spiky chemistry and Reeves in particular shows himself to be surprisingly skilled at delivering such bile-filled dialogue. Given the staginess, Levin tries to force a few scenes of broad physical comedy with little success, although he does mine some laughs from an awkward field-based sex scene (“There’s kelp at or near my vagina,” Ryder complains as Reeves thrusts, bored). When the film inevitably lurches toward romance, it’s slightly frustrating that out of the two, it’s Ryder’s character whose cynicism melts into affection. It would have been far more interesting to see a gender switch there but still, the script mostly keeps its characters true to themselves. There’s no grand declaration of love, just the slow, oddly touching realisation that sometimes, the person who hates the same things as you just might be the person you hate the least.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Destination Wedding review – Keanu and Winona reunite for mean-spirited romcom | Comedy films