Even before I watched Destination Wedding I came up with the idea for Final Destination Wedding. The bridesmaids and groomsmen would die in order until Death reaches the bride and groom!
Now I know that combo would be awesome because Destination Wedding itself is so good. Frank (Keanu Reeves) and Lindsay (Winona Ryder) meet on the way to their mutual friends’ wedding and spend the weekend commiserating together.
They begin by arguing over subtle aggressions that should absolutely be called out. Lindsay won’t let him get away with stepping ahead of her. Frank is perceptive that she’s exhibiting red flags. The film’s alternate title also suggests that level of perception.
And we know this is establishing the meet-cute where they hate each other because they’re ultimately going to fall in love. But way to layer that with something real and astute, not contrived.
The dialogue continues to be witty as they actually call each other on their bullsh*t. These kinds of abrasive curmudgeons could easily be insufferable in lesser hands. Reeves and Ryder have the charm to make them endearing without letting them off the hook.
Keanu’s physical comedy is perfectly deadpan as he’s trying to open a bag of airplane snacks. It’s fun to see him plans regular guy. He looks like John Wick in his suit with the floppy hair and still delivers his lines like a superhero. That intensity makes it funnier.
Ryder seems to be sending up her own manic pixie dreamgirl legacy. Lindsay’s observations are not wrong, but nor are they enabled.
The aggressive cynicism of these two could be a tired cliche too, but Destination Wedding makes Frank and Lindsay endearing. There’s a certain nobility to Frank’s consistent commitment to negativity. He’s so negative that certain perspectives end up optimistic in spite of him.
Within that relentless negativity, resigned acknowledgements of qualities that are not awful become sincere compliments. Along the way, Destination Wedding takes down movie cliches like men carrying women in their arms.
Writer/director Victor Levin gives these characters witty observations and clever expressions of them. The rhythm seems so natural it must be inherent in the script, but I bet that’s Ryder and reeves’ deceptively deft delivery. They’re able to do long takes in a two shot which makes it more powerful than cutting back and forth.
As wedding movies go, this is seeing the wedding from the perspective of the guests. Not even the central guests like the wedding party, just people who were invited out of a sense of obligation.
You hardly even see the wedding party. A few of the bride and groom’s family members make appearances as Frank and Lindsay badmouth them.
Honestly, Destination Wedding should be a major event. It’s a star vehicle rom com for huge movie stars. That’s what we go to the movies to see, and Destination Wedding delivers more than most of the summer tentpoles.
Destination Wedding opens Friday, August 31 in theaters.