There’s always room for a good romantic comedy that plays out in the follow-up to a wedding. The new Prime Video release The People We Hate At The Wedding, directed by Claire Scanlon stays strictly outside that room, stumbling its way through genre tropes to give us a soulless trip with a dysfunctional family, which only turns more animate and annoying with each passing second of its 100 minutes of runtime. Adapted by Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin from the novel of the same name by Grant Ginder, this is yet another addition to the list of clueless romantic comedies revolving around a wedding. To top it off, it is strictly unfunny. Also read: Kristen Bell, Ben Platt recall most embarrassing memories from social gatherings
The people include Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is preparing for her lush wedding in England and wants her estranged family members to travel from America. This dysfunctional family includes siblings Alice (Kristen Bell) and Paul (Ben Platt), along with their mother Donna (Alison Janney). Each one of them have their own set of problems and narcissistic tendencies that toe along. Alice is a wannabe architect now sleeping with her married boss. She works as his assistant, as she calls it. Of course Alice meets a handsome stranger on the flight, named Dennis (Dustin Milligan of Schitt’s Creek) and is left off-sided at her own train-wreck of a relationship with her boss. Paul, who works as some kind of a therapist (don’t even try to ask how), is in a relationship with the Dominic (Karan Soni), who comes along with him for exploring some of his own untapped desires. As for Donna, she’s literally the film’s worst written character, hooking up with her ex-first husband Henrique (Isaach de Bankolé), Eloise’s father.
The People We Hate At The Wedding does not try to project itself anything more than a feel-good comedy. Yet none of the self-sabotaging humor works. Why would Eloise invite her extended family and keep them, when all they are good at is ruining every little occasion they attend? Alice gets drunk early-on and grudges her way through the most unplanned female bachelorette party. She’s always ready to vomit whenever there’s a silence from the deadpan humor. Kristen Bell cannot save Alice with her trademark quirkiness; even her physical comedy feels misplaced in the overengineered scenes. There’s a whole subplot about Paul’s queerness, which involves a tiresome threesome that offers anything but laughs. Ben Platt tries too hard and overdoes the jokes and then the tears, whereas Allison Janney is confined to the sidelines with a character who has no sense of credibility or direction. Cynthia Addai-Robinson does her best with Eloise, and shows a rare depth in one of the later scenes, but its little too late to register amidst all the unnecessary chaos.
The only saving grace of them all is Dustin Milligan as the Paddington-loving Dennis, who adds uncommon grace to what could have been a caricature of a character. His scenes with Kristen Bell are the only moments when Claire Scanlon’s film feels bearable.
The People We Hate At The Wedding wants to confront the small misunderstandings that build up within our closest relations when we aren’t our best selves. At the end of the day, they are family. The final series of revelations tend to bring the family together for a confrontation, which would have worked if not for the cluelessly misguided execution. Unfortunately, in The People We Hate At The Wedding, it is the people who end up receiving all that hate instead.