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.
The granddad of all Hollywood wedding comedies, this story begins at the end: an exhausted father, in the aftermath of his only daughter’s wedding, sits among the wreckage of his home, rubbing his aching tootsies. If you’re contemplating a simple home wedding, this movie will give you pause—there’s nothing simple about the prospect, and you’ll be left cleaning up after the newlyweds have hopped their plane to Bermuda. Spencer Tracy, at his comical best as the ineffectual dad, will make you glad if you’re the father of the groom, who seems to get a free ride. Then again, the costs Tracy incurs seem a bargain in comparison with today’s wedding price tag ($3.75 a head? If only!).
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.