Review by James Lindorf
The one thing that Writer and Director Amy Miller Gross’ new comedy “Sister of the Groom” excels at is taking likable actors and making them unpleasant. Alicia Silverstone (Clueless) and Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do) star in this comedy about a disaster of a destination wedding weekend. Audrey (Silverstone) struggles with turning 40, hating her body, and her career choices. Meeting the seemingly perfect woman about to become her sister-in-law sends Audrey in a downward spiral. An embarrassing series of mishaps threaten to derail the wedding and push away Audrey’s loyal husband Ethan (Scott). “Sister of the Groom” will be available in a limited number of theaters and On Demand everywhere starting December 18th.
Silverstone is known for her effervescent characters from “Clueless” to “Blast from the Past,” but long-time fans will know she can go a little dark as she did in 1993’s “The Crush.” She doesn’t quite hit those depths here, but she is far from the life of the party. Audrey is not in a great space mentally when she gets to her childhood home where her brother Liam (Jake Hoffman) introduces her to his bride to be Clemence (Mathilde Ollivier). To some, Clemence is the picture of perfection, but to Audrey and anyone else with eyes or ears, she is a nightmare. Clemence controlling Liam, planning to demolish their childhood home, and flaunting her body all push Audrey closer to the edge of a breakdown. It is the perfect setup for Gross to make an absurd comedy. Unfortunately, every time she leans that way, like including a “fairy godmother,” food spiked with MDMA, and a water-skiing accident, she pulls back and embraces the morose side of her characters. No one is fun and likable, they can barely be considered tolerable, but it is hard to hate Scott and Silverstone.
Gross did many things technically well, and the cast seemed committed to their roles, another sign of a well-directed film. The issues all come from the script, where the tone is a complete mess. Gross couldn’t decide if she wanted to make an absurd comedy, a dark comedy, or a serious family drama, and it shows in every scene. There are no laugh out loud moments or profound emotional messages. “Sister of the Groom” is just something that washes over you for 92 minutes only to be forgotten in the same amount of time because it does nothing worth remembering. The closest she came to a compelling character moment is Audrey’s issues with body image. Her body never quite rebounded after carrying twins, and it is something that has bothered her for years, something millions of women can relate. It loses impact when it only comes up when Ethan is feeling amorous. Gross has a lot of talent, but a second writer or a better editor would have gotten the film down to one genre and produced something memorable.
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