WFTB Score: 6/20
The plot: When the editors of Confetti magazine launch a ‘most original wedding’ competition, they make a rod for their own back in their choice of finalists: two naturists, a pair of ultra-competitive tennis players, and a couple of music lovers who get on with each other but not the bride’s family. As the ‘happy’ couples are helped towards the big day by flamboyant wedding planners Heron and Hough, the likelihood of any of them making it down their bizarre aisles seems increasingly remote.
Fans of the ‘mockumentary’ genre, especially those of Christopher Guest’s semi-improvised works, will find much familiar in Debbie Isitt’s work, especially if they are also familiar with British comedy actors from shows such as The Office, Peep Show or Green Wing. Most people will also have been to enough weddings to appreciate the potential for uncomfortable comedy – or at least ridicule – in the ceremony, and will wonder how Confetti manages to miss nearly all of its targets by a mile.
The set-up is simplicity itself. Confetti magazine, in the guise of Jimmy Carr and Felicity Montagu, run a competition to find Britain’s most original wedding, with an as-yet unbuilt house as the main prize – and whittle the auditioning couples down to three: Matt and Sam (Martin Freeman and Jessica Hynes), who want a top-hat-and-tails Busby Berkeley affair; Josef and Isabelle (Stephen Mangan and Meredith MacNeill) who want a wedding themed around their passion for tennis; and Michael and Joanna (Robert Webb and Olivia Colman), naturists of varying degress of commitment whose idea for a naked wedding makes Montagu nervous from the off.
Although all three couples are given the support and ideas of screamingly gay wedding planners Heron and Hough (Vincent Franklin and Jason Watkins), there are suspicions that the competition is skewed towards Matt and Sam. However, Matt is at his wits’ end with Sam’s interfering sister and Mum (Sarah Hadland and Alison Steadman), and his best friend Snoopy (Marc Wootton) also appears dead-set against the wedding. Isabelle, meanwhile, must cope with Josef’s insane jealousy about her coach Jésus and the fact that the magazine people think her nose is all wrong; and Joanna struggles to restrain Michael’s militant naturism, which is at odds with her unease about nudity in front of the public – and her mother.
Confetti’s cameras follow the couples as the weeks tick down and their plans come together, fall apart and just about come together again on a day of multiple weddings in front of judges. They don’t, unfortunately, capture many laughs along the way. The actors, improvising most of the script, are all perfectly naturalistic, Webb in particular very brave in appearing naked for most of the film; but whether it’s a case of the scenarios not inspiring them or everyone being off form, there are very few laugh out loud moments in Confetti.
The couples capture the stress of impending marriage quite well and at times the film gets quite serious about relationships, but there are no counteracting moments of insanity or delirium. The cast of Guest’s films are occasionally overblown (Fred Willard’s turns in both Best in Show and A Mighty Wind spring to mind), but film comedies often require larger than life inhabitants and the ordinary Middle-England folk portrayed here are dull, the characters not displaying any quirks or signs of an existence beyond the parameters of the film. Even the most interesting and reliably entertaining characters, Heron and Hough, are little more than classic gay stereotypes, and elsewhere the lack of imagination is typified by more than one scene descending into a fight. What else do you do when you can’t think of anything to say?
On the other side of the argument, the film does the actual weddings really nicely – surprisingly, the tennis one is perhaps the best – and you momentarily feel the connection between the lovers that is missing from the rest of the film. But even this turns sour amidst accusations of cheating, and the film fizzles out with a nonsensical decision for all the couples to cut a record (almost definitely ‘borrowed’ from Best in Show). There are incidental pleasures to be found in Confetti, but you can’t help feeling that Isitt planned the ending and hoped to God that her actors and actresses would join up all the dots in comic fashion for her. Sorry, Debbie, but your concept or your comedians – probably both – jilted you badly.