One of the positive side effects of taking part in my friend’s virtual book club is that I find out about loads of great books. Of course, most of the time we don’t end up reading the ones that I’m really interested in, so I have take it upon myself to read them. This book was my pick or February’s Valentine theme and it was one that I knew I had to buy for myself. It just sounded like such a different take on a love story. Although, I did have some fears about it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel about super heroes that I’ve enjoyed. The superhero genre is such a visual one that I think it’s really hard to translate that in words. Could you imagine trying to write a novelisation of some of the most popular graphic novels? It’d be so difficult. As this book didn’t sound quite as bothered about the superhero element, I figured that it might be a bit safer.
Back in 2018, you couldn’t go anywhere without people talking about this film. Okay, when I say anywhere” I actually mean social media but the fact remains. Not seeing this film when it came out did set me apart from popular opinion. So why didn’t I watch it? To be honest, I just had no interest. I’m not a fan of the whole romantic-comedy thing and this sounded like every other film about two star-crossed lovers. Of course, this one had the added benefit of giving some much needed Asian representation on film. Even though didn’t actually go as smoothly as it should have. Even when we take one step forwards there is always going to be someone who complains about something. As it’s coming up to Valentine’s Day, I decided that I really should watch something of this type and it’s been staring at me every time I search through Prime. It finally felt like the time to do it.
Do you ever bother with signed editions? I’m not talking about being lucky enough to meet an author in person and getting them to sign it. I’m talking about those books that are already signed and, most likely, cost a little bit more than the usual hardback. I try not to care and will normally only bother with signed books by authors I really love. Of course, there may be an occasion when the signed edition is cheaper on Waterstones than the unsigned. In that case, I’ll definitely go for it but, really, I don’t see the point. If it’s not personalised, it’s just a bit meaningless, right? It’s not as I expect them to become investment pieces that I’ll hand down to my children. Nor am I showing them off to everyone I know. The signature is just a thing that exists and makes very little difference to my life. Why am I banging on about this? I pre-ordered the hardback signed copy of Come Again but it has sat on my shelf since April 2020. I do this all the time and I don’t know why I never learn. I am so desperate to get certain signed editions but then let them languish on my shelf. I definitely have a problem.
On Saturday, I set out a list of reading resolutions for the year. As usual, one of the majors ones was to buy fewer books. This is something I try and fail to keep every year. The publishing industry just can’t stop bringing out more fantastic books. However, I do intend to do better this year because I’m painfully aware that I have something of storage problem. In order to stop myself from buying new books, I have set myself a second resolution of actually reading the books on my shelves. I have that classic bookish problem of having owned books for years. This is especially true of my Kindle. I tend to buy cheap ebooks on a whim and then forget about them. According to Amazon, I bought Jonathan Unleashed in December 2016. That means I’ve owned it for 4 years. It feels as though it was time to finally give it a chance.
In my review of Love, Guaranteed on Tuesday, I suggested that my main motivation for watching it was to escape from reality with something ridiculous. That was partly the case. After all, the more news I watch the less energy I have for dramatic narratives. However, I won’t pretend that it was my only motivation. Really, I wanted to use it as an excuse to rewatch She’s All That. I can’t remember the last time that I watched this film but, for a time, it was definitely something I watched all the time. Along with 10 Things I Hate About You, this was a film that had a prominent place in my teenage years. I clearly didn’t have great taste at the time but I don’t think anybody really does in their early teens, right?
I haven’t been a massive fan of romantic comedies since I was a stupid tween but I can definitely see the appeal this year. There is so much awful stuff going on in the world that escaping into a rom-com seems like the perfect thing to do. There is a familiarity about these films that is pretty comforting. You know where you’re going to end up before you’ve even started, so you can just sit down and let it all wash over you. Considering the rest of the world is in utter turmoil, there’s a lot to be said to knowing what to expect. This is my only explanation for sitting down to watch the new Netflix original romantic comedy despite the fact that I knew I wasn’t really going to enjoy it.
As I suggested in my review of How to Build a Girl, there was an obvious choice for a companion TBT film. Almost Famous is a clear bedfellow for Caitlin Moran’s coming-of-age tale. The only problem is, I never want to watch Almost Famous again. I know that I’m in a tiny minority of people but I really don’t get what the fuss was about. It just seemed a bit too overindulgent and facile. It was pure Hollywood and didn’t really speak much to me or my experiences. I don’t understand why people adore it so much. So I needed to find an alternative. I went for another Kate Hudson film. Not one I was any more excited to watch but one that I could at least sit through. Handily, she plays a journalist who tries to get ahead by being unnecessarily mean. Oh, and it has “how to” in the title. Not a bad companion film after all.
As we’ve seen in the past few Tuesday Reviews, I’m not a fan of Netflix comedies. What I’m even less of a fan of is romantic-comedies. What I’m even less of fan of than romantic-comedies are quirky romantic-comedies based around weddings. So, a Netflix original quirky romantic comedy based around a wedding really wasn’t the film I was desperate to watch. Under normal circumstances, I’d have pretended that this film didn’t exist and go on my merry way. But this is the “new normal”. We have to get used to a new way of life and maybe that includes not ignoring everything that looks really shit?
There’s a point in Love Wedding Repeat where it looks as if we’re about to go back and replay all of the story again but with one element slightly altered. When that moment arrived, I was almost sick at the thought of having to sit through everything again. Thankfully, it doesn’t go quite that far but it should tell you everything about the first half of the film. Was this the first comedy film that Netflix got right? Not at all. What we get is a very uninspiring and overused premise. Somebody clearly thought that this film was going to revive the rom-com tradition that Richard Curtis made work for him in the 90s but, instead, this is just embarassing. It has a feel of Steven Moffat’s Coupling about it but it has the terrible writing and boring storylines of Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner for Doctor Who.
Love Wedding Repeat is actually a remake of a French film, Plan de Table. It takes us to Rome and the day that Hayley marries her Italian fiance, Roberto. When an old flame of Hayley’s turns up ready to ruin the wedding, she asks her brother, Jack, to help out. By giving him a dose of her potent sleeping drops. Jack puts the drugs into Marc’s empty champagne glass. Unfortunately, a group of meddling kids move the names around so everyone is in different seats. Instead of Marc, Hayley’s actor friend, Bryan, is drugged. This means Jack can’t concentrate on flirting with Hayley’s American friend, Dina, who he met in Rome 3 years ago but failed to make a move on. Instead, he has to run around preventing Marc dropping a bombshell and making sue Bryan doesn’t make a fool of himself in front of a famed Italian director.
The central idea for this film is how many possible paths there are to take in life. The knowledge that it takes a certain chain of events to end in one particular moment in time. Just take the 8 people sat around a table at a wedding. They could be arranged in thousands of different ways and each one would cause a different outcome. Life is about taking chances and hoping that it’s the right one. Through several brief glimpses of alternate timelines, we see that very few of the arrangements of people at the table will lead to a happy ending for the newly married couple. Love, we are told, can be derailed by the slightest thing. So, the message here is that love is kind of meaningless and just comes down to chance, right? Or are we being told that such tiny odds means love is all about fate? I don’t know and I doubt anyone making this film knew either.
It feels like this film didn’t really have a plan besides the create an ensemble farce that takes place at a wedding bit. Love Wedding Repeat has the air of a much more intelligent film but it’s just stupid. It doesn’t even know how to be funny and has to rely on dick jokes and people slipping roofies into champagne. This kind of story should write itself but it’s gone horribly wrong somewhere. There are a few sort of funny moments and some strong-ish performances. However, the majority of the actors are just dull and flat. And let’s be honest, even though I was glad we didn’t properly repeat the narrative a bunch of times, the way the film gets around it is sloppy and adds nothing to the plot. It’s a waste and it makes it hard to see what the point of that motif is.
Remember when Deadpool came out and Olivia Munn made a really bitchy comment about how she turned down the role of Vanessa because she didn’t want to play a girlfriend again? She wanted to fight and not just be eye candy. Obviously, she went on to play Psylocke and we know how that turned out. But, watching this film, I have to wonder what she thought she was signing up for with this film. Her role as Dina is the definition of eye candy. Yes, there is a moment where they try and give her a tragic backstory but it’s never presented with any weight. Nobody involved in the film, either in reality or on screen, gives a shit who Dina is or where she comes from. She’s just there for slow fuzzy zooms on her beautiful face. Although, it might explain why she didn’t want to play “the girlfriend”. Her lack of chemistry with Sam Claflin here suggests she wouldn’t be able to sell it.
I’d be tempted to suggest that Love Wedding Repeat is one of those Netflix films that was purposefully made to be as bad as possible. The ones like A Christmas Prince where the streaming service relies on word of mouth to get people to watch it. They know people love shit films so they continually knock out cheap and shit films so people criticse them on social media. But I’m not actually sure that’s what is happening here. For one thing, it’s not as over-the-top in its shitness as most of their films are. For another, this film lacks that self-awareness that the majority of their romantic-comedies have. Someone, somewhere clearly thought that they were onto a winner here and I don’t see why. There’s is nothing funny nor particularly romantic about this film. It’s not so bad that you remember if after you’ve seen it. I can still remember almost everything that happened in A Christmas Prince but I had to Google so much of this film. I only saw it yesterday. Netflix is really scraping the barrle with this one and that’s saying something.
For those who haven’t read it, this week’s Tuesday Review was Judy. A film that mixes Renée Zellweger with Judy Garland and puts her in the 1960s. Which makes Down With Love the perfect film for today’s Throwback Thursday. Well, it is a film that mixes Renée Zellweger with Judy Garland and puts her in the 1960s. Plus, this one has Ewan McGregor’s face in it. And, as we all know, that can make anything better. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t completely hate the Star Wars prequels. Although, it was never enough to make me want to watch this film the first time around. 15-year-old me wasn’t a fan of romantic comedies. Not that 31-year-old me is but I am less of a twat about it. A friend of mine really liked it and told me it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t see it. But, after a long Monday at work, the draw of McGregor’s face and the promise of an easy watch finally got me to say yes. So, would it be worth the wait?
I have a friend who has always loved Ralph Fiennes. I’d never really got on board with him as a concept until Skyfall. But she was always trying to convince me that there was more to him. Maid in Manhattan was always my go-to argument. I mean it’s such a stupid film full of people doing stupid things. And J Lo man. Although, I’ve definitely changed my opinion of her since watching Hustlers. It only seemed fair that I go back and find out if it was as bad as I remembered. Or have I been doing Jenny from the Block a disservice all these years? I doubted it but I did need to find something to watch for tonight and this was there. And, dammit, I love Natasha Richardson. Is it the role she’s remembered for? No, but she’s definitely one of the best things in it.