Family tensions ramp up among siblings in the week leading up to their half-sister’s wedding in the country.
Editing: Wendy Greene Bricmont
Music: Tom Howe
Cast: Allison Janney, Kristen Bell, Ben Platt, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Isaach De Bankole, Jorma Taccone, Karan Soni, Lizzy Caplan, Tony Goldwyn, John Macmillan
Directors: Claire Scanlon
Writers: Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin (screenplay by), Wendy Molyneux (screenplay by), Grant Ginder (based on the book by)
Cinematography: Oliver Stapleton
Even if you know where the story will go in a comedy like The People We Hate at the Wedding, sometimes all you need is a cast of enjoyable and lively characters, which the film delivers.
Setting up the film with a fairy tale setting, the once upon a time begins with Donna (Allison Janney) meeting Henrique (Isaach De Bankole) and having a daughter, Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), together in England. They split, however, and Donna moves back to America, where she meets Bill (Andy Daly), and they have two kids, Paul (Ben Platt) and Alice (Kristen Bell). The three kids have an odd childhood as Eloise flies to and from America once a year to spend time with her mother and siblings, but as the film jumps ahead to them being adults, they’ve grown apart. Something Eloise did has Paul and Alice not talking to her, while they similarly hold a grudge against their mother. The family is split, but what’s supposed to bring any good family together again? A wedding. And so it is that Eloise invites her family to England for her nuptials, hoping to mend their broken family simultaneously.
The story is pretty straightforward, and you can probably guess how each character’s little arcs will pan out for them, but the cast makes the film so fun. Paul is bringing his asshole boyfriend Dominic (Karan Soni) to the Wedding; Alice is hoping her boss (Jorma Taccone), whom she’s having an affair with, while his wife (Lizzy Caplan) thinks he’s being dropped off in an Uber each night. Donna is clueless about the drama between her children as she questions why Paul won’t answer her 20+ missed phone calls.
The People We Hate at the Wedding doesn’t rush out of America, and the time we get to spend with Donna, Paul and Alice in their respective states before all agreeing to fly to the Wedding makes for some of the best parts of the movie. A cameo between D’Arcy Carden and Kristen Bell is sure to make any fans of The Good Place happy; while watching Ben Platt squish rubbish into a woman’s feet at his place of work, some weird self-help therapy about conquering anxieties is both very amusing and scary knowing it’s probably a real thing somewhere.
Kristen Bell is very good at playing a manic drunk, and her antics in this film are always delightful. She manages to both throw up in a bush and ruin her sister’s hens event by falling into a river in about thirty minutes. Her chemistry with Dustin Milligan, who plays Dennis, a happy-go-lucky kind of guy she meets on the plane trip to England, is the perfect antidote for her passive-aggressive behaviour.