Destination Wedding has all the basic signposts of a Hollywood production — big stars, scenic locations, a cameo from a real and very displeased-looking mountain lion — but it might easily have been a play; there are no speaking roles for anyone outside its two leads, and almost everything that happens could be transposed to an empty stage and two chairs set side by side.
All Winona Ryder’s high-strung Lindsay and Keanu Reeves’ beardy, misanthropic Frank need is a space to talk (and talk) — about JD Power & Associates, wine corks, the human condition, the pronunciation of Paso Robles. She’s the ex-fiancée of the feckless groom; he’s the older, semi-estranged half-brother. Neither of them particularly wants to be at this wedding, or in any situation even tangentially involving celebration or social interaction. Their meet-cute in an airport lounge on the way to the ceremony in San Luis Obispo almost immediately morphs into loathe at first sight, but there’s no question they’ll be together by the last frame. Who else would have these two loons?
The script, by writer-director Victor Levin (Survivor’s Remorse, Mad About You) comes on like a rom-com David Mamet freight train; its verbal turns are so wildly overwritten that all the actors can really do is hold on to the wheel well, racing through reams of ratatat dialogue. But Ryder and Reeves surrender to it gamely, and sprinkle a sort of movie-star pixie dust over the too-muchness of the text. (Once ethereally, impossibly beautiful, they are also now merely gorgeous enough to almost make you buy that two people this clever, successful, and good-looking could possibly be so miserable.)
If Ryder has to mug her way through Lindsay’s twitchy mannerisms, and both are forced to endure one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes ever committed on a California hillside, at least they each get to relax into a smoother sort of Nick-and-Norah rhythm by the movie’s midway point. And that’s all we really want from Wedding, in the end — to follow their journey, not the Destination. C+