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CINEMA: Four Weddings and a Funeral: Well Groomed

2 minute read
Richard Corliss

There are movies so breezy, even flimsy, that you can enjoy them as genial providers of an evening’s entertainment yet forget all about them by the time you leave the multiplex. Such a film is Four Weddings and a Funeral, a British romantic comedy with not much inside its pretty head but the spinning out of an ancient Hollywood riddle: How long will it take the two leading characters to realize that they are destined to be together?

Mike Newell’s film finds its premise in one of modern life’s minor truths: if you are a sociable specimen of the yuppie breed, you spend many of your Saturdays and much of your spare income suiting yourself up for friends’ % weddings. Charles (Hugh Grant), a 32-year-old Londoner, has made a second career out of being a supporting player in these archaic rituals. For him it’s like attending a rugby match without having to get muddy. Until, that is, he meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell), a pretty American. The movie being a nostalgia piece — remember the ’80s? — the two have sex, then love, then a marriage. But not to each other. That’s why this is a comedy.

Grant, who can soon be seen in Sirens and Bitter Moon, is every inch the blithe aristocrat. MacDowell imports her Groundhog Day sweetness to a role that is more a fantasy than a character. And Rowan Atkinson has a cute turn as a tongue-tied cleric. Richard Curtis (The Tall Guy, Blackadder) has stocked his script with transatlantic gags (How many times has Carrie had sex? “Less than Madonna, more than Lady Di”). The movie strains a bit to prove it’s all a lark, but because the mood is cunningly sunny, and the cast is so relaxed in its empyrean of casual sex and restorative love, you can bet the sterling silverware that America will give a warm reception to . . . what’s the name of this picture?

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