Nuptial planning, Bronx-Italian style, including tacky, rainbow-colored bridesmaid gowns, tawdry wedding halls that serve mashed potatoes dyed to match the color of the gowns, opinionated friends, interfering relatives, and a bride and groom who are swept along with the idea of marriage as something you ought to do, and so convince themselves that they want to do it. Ron Eldard’s groom is hopelessly immature and unromantic; Annabella Sciorra’s bride ignores the fact that her marriage is doomed before it starts (she can’t help it—she’s too busy wiping fingerprints off her back). You’ll probably find this movie a lot funnier if you’ve witnessed this type of New Yawk behavior up close; otherwise, it may all just seem completely crazy.
A famous pre-nup crash and burn: Katharine Hepburn is the proud, self-righteous bride to be who wants to be knocked down from her pedestal (“I don’t want to be worshiped; I just want to be loved”); Cary Grant is the sarcastic ex who’s determined to make her feel guilty and stop the wedding; Jimmy Stewart is the class-conscious society reporter thrust into the maelstrom. General wedding-planning tizziness abounds. The comedy is high, and the racehorses in this stable all run in peak form—even if the thrust of the movie seems to be that women should forgive men their boyish faults, whether they include drinking, adultery, or just the pinching fingers of the slightly creepy Uncle Willie (Roland Young). Though overrated, this may be a good movie to watch before making or accepting a marriage proposal, if only because it stirs up every doubt and second thought you should have before tying the knot.
At its heart, this Ang Lee adaptation of the Rick Moody novel is a humane, sane, hilarious, and rich-as-mousse dispatch on the woes, risks, and costs of the all-American family, climaxing in the very real 1973 winter storm of the title and its largely symbolic fallout. The multiple character study encompasses an affable Dad (Kevin Kline) who’s equally bewildered by his affair with a trendy neighbor (Sigourney Weaver) and his slowly disintegrating family, a haunted Mom (Joan Allen) who’s lost somewhere between girlhood and disillusionment, a rebellious daughter (Christina Ricci) who’s experimenting with shoplifting and mock sex with the neighbor’s boys (Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd), and a sweet-natured pothead son (Tobey Maguire) who’s impassively grappling with puberty. But the real subject is vain, media-drunk modernity itself, and how it leaves us unprepared for the worst things in life—things that can happen at night, when everything’s frozen over.