Love Wedding Repeat
Credit: Netflix

It never really feels fair that romantic comedies are called guilty pleasures; why should anyone have to feel bad about the movies that make them feel good? Love Wedding Repeat even sounds like exactly the kind of distraction we could use right now: a frothy European romp, spilling over with Roman sunshine and champagne fountains and pretty people whose happy endings are guaranteed within the next 100 minutes; no more and no less.

Sadly, writer-director Dean Craig seems to have forgotten to add the pleasure part. His blundering debut aims for fizzy sex farce but lands instead on a sort of joyless burlesque —  a series of wild misunderstandings, cake-faced pratfalls, and misbegotten fiancés, all played out by a group of attractive, likable actors doing their best to be the worst.

Sam Claflin (Me Before You) is Jack, a man clearly built in the mold of classic rom-com Hugh Grant; his bangs are too short, technically, to flop, but he stutters and flails in the presence of Dina (Olivia Munn), an American war reporter who speaks somberly of Afghanistan and looks like she just wandered out of the VIP tent at Coachella. They met years ago through his sister Hayley (Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson), who is now getting married to an Italian man (his name is Roberto; he actually seems nice).

The good news for Jack is that Dina is newly single and will be sitting somewhere near him at the “English” table. The bad news is so will his friend Bryan (Game of Thrones’ Joel Fry), an aspiring actor and full-time adult baby; Rebecca (Aisling Bea), who trails after Bryan like a lost chihuahua; Sidney (Tim Key), a bloviating car salesman in a kilt; and a furious-looking woman named Amanda (Freida Pinto), who used to date Jack but is now with Chaz (Allan Mustafa), who really, really wants to talk about his penis.

There’s another more dangerous ex in the mix, too: An old friend Eleanor unwisely slept with the week before the ceremony and who has now decided, with the friendly encouragement of cocaine, to reclaim the bride as his own. And there's a narrator too, a God-like voice that delivers wise aphorisms about fate and destiny and the vagaries of chance, and attempts to semi-explain the Sliding Doors magical realism that makes up the movie's choose-your-own-adventure plot twists.

If only hilarity ensued; instead, Wedding manages to feel both overwrought and underbaked, consistently squeezing the natural charm out of its players in order to bang their hapless miscommunications and personality quirks into the ground. It's enough to make it through once; Repeat may be a bridge too far. C–

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