Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blah.
That’s the not-quite-rhyming recipe for My Sister’s Wedding, a get-me-to-the-altar comedy that never really engages its audience.
Its story revolves around put-upon middle child Allison, trying hard to make sure her kid sister’s nuptials run smoothly. It shouldn’t be that hard. The wedding is at the family home, in the back yard. The guest list probably tops out at a dozen.
The only problems? The arrival of the bride’s proud but pushy father, who’s been alienated from the rest of the family for years. And the mother’s decision that this is the perfect day to serve her hard-to-pin-down-spouse with divorce papers.
And suddenly Allison has her work cut out for her.
So does filmmaker Kenneth R. Frank. Wedding comedies aren’t exactly a new thing – they were a staple back in the screwball days – but if you’re doing one you need a great cast (The Philadelphia Story) a novel plot (The Graduate) or at least one laugh-out-loud scene (the “I Say a Little Prayer For You” singalong in My Best Friend’s Wedding).
My Sister’s Wedding has none of that.
Instead it has an adequate cast, a predictable story and a few slight smiles. The whole thing clocks in at a little over 80 minutes and it still feels slow.
The best character is the bombastic father, and actor Brian Donahue knows it. A real-estate millionaire who still thinks of himself as a working stiff, he manages to offend nearly everyone without ever realizing why. Clueless without being cruel, his arrival adds a bit of life to things, thanks to Donahue and his very authentic Boston-Irish accent.
But Frank seems to have spent so much time envisioning that role he hasn’t really created any others. They’re just placeholders, keeping a spot open until a better character is written. Sadly, none ever was.
In the lead role of the taken-for-granted sibling, Samantha Sayah works hard, but energy is no substitute for insight or laughs. The rest of the cast is utterly forgettable (except for Jennifer Jiles as the mother, who only creates an impression by overacting, in the usual mistaken belief that ham is synonymous with humor).
The filmmaking is unobtrusive at best and the plot holds no real surprises or satisfying twists. The small and obvious attempts to make things feel modern by bringing in Black and gay characters never feel like anything more than that: Small and obvious attempts.
To be fair, My Sister’s Wedding isn’t offensive, let alone worth hating. It’s professionally put together and (for the most part) competently acted. But there’s no there there. Like the suburban mansion it takes place in, it’s pretty, but also pretty empty.