Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight, PG-13)

This film fails to execute the screwball formula by faltering into unbearable territory.

 Screwball comedies are farcical in fashion. Slapstick riffraff and romantic escapades stew into an entertaining brew. These films seem like all fun and games, but they must balance out their rambunctiousness so that it doesn’t turn into an annoyance. Rick Famuyiwa’s Our Family Wedding tries so hard to pull off the screwball subgenre. While Famuyiwa unites two young lovers, the film’s continuous rounds of race jokes and awkward physical comedy beg for a divorce.

In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and My Big Fat Greek Wedding style, Lucia (American Ferrara) and Marcus (Lance Gross) come home to Los Angeles from Columbia University to announce their engagement. In a matter of weeks they are making a big move to Asia so Marcus can work for Doctors Without Borders. Ferrara sure has matured since her innocent role in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Her character comes from a working class Mexican family and Marcus was raised by an African American single father. Their interracial relationship initially frightens their families. Lucia’s grandmother (Lupe Ontiveros) even faints at the sight of the tall dark and handsome suitor. Marcus’ playboy radio jock father, Brad Boyd (Forest Whitaker), and Lucia’s auto shop owner dad, Miguel (Carlos Mencia), seriously hate each other. They dish out black and Mexican jokes one after another. Then they take jabs at the other’s social class. At first it is funny, but after the first half hour of continuous bashing it gets uncomfortable. I would even consider it tasteless.

The families decide that if their children get married the parents will take on planning the events. Marcus and Lucia have to tell themselves, “Our marriage, their wedding.” Lucia’s mother Sonia (Diana Marie Riva) basks in the wedding planning to compensate for a lackluster marriage. She becomes the perfect target for ageism and sexism. As the families struggle to get along the jokes just get out of hand. There is no rhythm. They become a jumbled mess and leave an audience anticipating the end credits.

Even the scenes that showcase physical comedy are chaotic and almost pointless. The characters’ body language becomes more odd than funny. For some reason one of the most annoying physical jokes gets revisited. I wanted to hide my eyes the second time around. Aren’t Viagra jokes old news? Mencia and Whitaker disappoint, and I have to admit I had high hopes for the duo.

Lucia and Marcus realize that a marriage involves a whole lot more than two people. In their case, they better be glad they chose to relocate across the planet. Their ridiculously silly families are too much to handle. Famuyiwa hasn’t mastered the balancing act. This film fails to execute the screwball formula by faltering into unbearable territory. | Alice Telios

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