Most wedding videos are as dull as dish water. They never show the real entertainment of the day, the vein desperation of the bride to be as flawless as a Vouge cover model, the palpitations of a groom faced with the definitive end of a care free life, the best man stalking the single bridesmaids like a lion tracking a pack of gazelles, determining which is the weakest among the group. All wedding videos are a sanitised affair that prefers acceptable mediocrity over entertaining eccentricity.
You could never accuse The Wedding Video of being sanitised. It succeeds where normal wedding videos fail, by presenting a more honest vision of a bride and groom on their wedding day. Where others only show the smiles, the tears, the standing on ceremony, The Wedding Video shows them scratching their arses when they think nobody’s looking.
Of course what else do you expect when the man behind the camera is Rufus Hound? Previously known as the counterpart to Marcus Brigstock in old episodes of Argumental, in The Wedding Video he plays Raif. Raif is the brother and best man to Tim (Played by Robert Webb, counterpart to Seann Walsh in the new episodes of Argumental. Awwwkward) and he is the man responsible for turning Tim’s wedding into a Top Hat and Tails version of Spinal Tap.
Tim is getting married to Saskia played by Lucy Punch. Saskia is the only daughter of a single mother who went from permanent skinthood to nouveau riche in the time it took to utter a few vows of her own. Now their wedding is to be the set piece of the Cheshire Social calendar. But will the zany antics of the best man reduce the whole occasion to a farce?
Yes it will but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Usually when a film is made up of British TV talent you set your standards somewhere a mile below sea level, especially when the lead actor’s only previous experience was starring in a science fiction sitcom on CBBC. But The Wedding Video has a tendency to surprise you, which is a good thing when the surprise is that it’s actually quite funny.
Essentially the first ever found footage Rom-Com The Wedding Video works because it is a one two punch. In the first act we believe that the film is willing to sell itself on the one joke concept alone, a down to earth bloke secretly lampooning the ridiculous pomposity of a social climbers wedding. But by the second act you realise that through all the penis jokes and inept buffoonery the film has actually made a sterling effort to make you care about these characters.
They are likeable, down to earth figures caught up in the social expectation of a state of affairs none of them can really grasp. It’s endearing to watch them try and fail to keep their grip on an event, the bombassity of which spirals out of their control, not because they are incapable but because they don’t understand why they need Koreans massaging peoples feet in the toilets. We see the film through their eyes which works because we are as confused by the pretentiousness of the proceedings as they are.
The film plants the seeds early on hinting at greater depth within the characters which halfway through it delivers on. The standout scene involves Raif and Saskia reminiscing on all of the drunken debauchery they used to get up to during Secondary School and then the revelations about just why these kids turned to alcoholic rebellion in the first place. It’s not a sudden twist, its delivered with patience and pathos; soon after the scene is over you’ll wonder at what point you actually started to care about these characters as human beings.
It’s not perfect however. The fact that the film is so irreverent to an occasion as sacred as a wedding day means that you hope it will be just as irreverent to the conventions of a traditional Rom Com. Alas this is not the case as the film’s final jab is a rushed attempt at creating an unwelcome conflict; it’s almost as if it realises it really should be developing a plot at some point. And if the conflict feels rushed then the resolution is even worse. You will not believe that everyone simply accepts the sharp character turns and the events that transform this irreverent little mongrel into an obedient little pup.
I’m also not certain how I feel about the found footage angle. It does an admirable job at justifying itself in its use of perspective and it is commendable how it commits to the idea. But there are just some situations where you simply would not have a camera on making the entire concept feel contrived. (Why does every found footage film feel the need to live and die by its concept. Can’t some of these films compromise and just show the occasional non diegetic shot?). It also has serious pacing issues and relies on of many of the same gags to keep laugh count consistent.
Having said that it, it is funny. The Wedding Video’s best quality is not its commitment to unpretentious laughs. It’s the fact that it has any to begin with.