VOD film review: The People We Hate at the Wedding
James R | On 20, Nov 2022
Director: Claire Scanlon
Cast: Allison Janney, Isaach De Bankolé, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Kristen Bell, Ben Platt
What do you call a romantic comedy without romance or comedy? The People We Hate at the Wedding, based on the book by Grant Ginder, follows American siblings Alice (Kristen Bell) and Paul (Ben Platt), who reluctantly attend the wedding of their wealthy half-sister – the estranged Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). Accompanied by their mum, Donna (Allison Janney), and with her first husband, Henrique (Isaach de Bankolé), also in attendance, the stage is set for all manner of family tensions to surface.
And that’s before we get to Alice (Kristen Bell), a thirty-something who is having an affair with her boss (Jorma Taccone) in the hope that he’ll leave his wife for her. She finds some consolation in the company of her brother, Paul (Ben Platt), and his boyfriend, Dominic (Karan Soni) – although Dominic grows concerned that Paul might be interested in his friend, Alcott (Julian Ovenden), at whose place they’re staying. Along the way, Alice also crosses paths with the unassuming but attractive Dennis (Dustin Milligan), who charms her by convincing her to watch the film Paddington.
If any strands of this sound familiar, that’s because they’re something borrowed from other rom-coms you’ve seen before – the only reason they’ve been spelt out in full is because by the time you reach the end credits, you will have forgotten almost all of it. With a script that tries to pack in every cliche going, there’s sadly no room for anyone to make an impression – the stacked cast even includes wasted appearances by Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Tony Goldwyn, John Macmillan. There’s even less time for jokes, with every attempt at laughter either unnoticed or tripping halfway down the aisle. Despite clocking in at 100 minutes, it feels like a two-hour marathon, with no heart, humour or likeable characters to keep you going. The People We Hate at the Wedding, at least, succeeds at living up to its title.