Here Comes the Bride, the Bride, the Bride, the Bride
There is part of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" which I really enjoy and then there is a part which I just don't. The part I don't like happens to be the main storyline, the romance between the Charles and Carrie played by Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, some of which is down to Hugh Grant playing that stereotypical posh voiced, floppy haired, bumbling character which he ended up typecast as for years. But then the other side, the back storylines and quirky characters really entertains and makes "Four Weddings and a Funeral" far more entertaining.
At 32 Charles (Hugh Grant - Music and Lyrics) seems like he will never marry despite several relationships but he is not alone as his closest friends all seem to be struggling to settle down. That is until attending the wedding of friends he meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell - Groundhog Day) an American who he can't keep his eyes off of. But despite seeming to hit it off Charles just seems unable to express his emotions as they meet again and again at a series of weddings and a funeral until finally it maybe too late.
So as already mentioned I don't like the central storyline, the romance between Charles and Carrie which blossoms over a series of weddings. The actual idea of meeting a woman at a wedding and then again at another and so on is in fact quite charming, even sweet but the actual writing of the romance is disappointing. It almost bumbles along punctuated by some corny scenes and even cornier dialogue. Maybe that was writer Richard Curtis and director Mike Newell's intentions to make it a bumbling, amusing romance full of cliche but for me it is painful. Made even more painful by the acting of Andie MacDowell who at times seems so cold that there is no emotion when she speaks.
But to counter balance this disappointing romantic storyline there is a lot going on in the background. We have the ultra quirky bunch of friends whose love lives seem terrible and you have comic mishaps including Charles's continual waking up late for weddings accompanied with some hilarious swearing. It's not brilliantly clever stuff but it is amusing and helps distract from the actual weak storyline. In fact a now iconic funeral scene featuring the beautiful monologue of W. H. Auden's "Stop all the clocks" is one of the best moments in the entire movie and has nothing to do with the main romantic storyline.
It's not surprising that the comedy is very British with writer Richard Curtis having fun with quirky British stereotypes. He embellishes them to the max so that whilst recognizable they are also hilarious. And it's not just the central quirky characters which are funny; it's those minor ones such as Rowan Atkinson's turn as a very nervous priest conducting his first wedding. It's a good thing that the comedy is so spot on as with out it "Four Weddings and a Funeral" would have ended up corny as hell as just a romance.
As for the performances well just as I didn't enjoy Andie MacDowell's performance as Carrie I can't say I enjoyed Hugh Grant as Charles. I am sure some will be amused by the bumbling and nervous Charles with his posh voice but it ends up grating on me. In a way it's a shame that since "Four Weddings and a Funeral" Hugh Grant has played a few similar sorts of characters because maybe without these my feelings towards his performance here would be better but sadly it just doesn't do it for me.
But then like with the background stories appealing more than the main romantic storyline, the supporting performances end up far more entertaining. John Hannah delivers the perfect amount of comedy and emotion whilst Simon Callow is wonderfully over the top as Gareth. And it's hard not to enjoy James Fleet putting in a brilliantly comical performance as Tom the toff. But it is the sadly departed Charlotte Coleman as Scarlet who really delivers many of the best laughs with her shocking red hair and mischievous giggle.
What this all boils down to is that "Four Weddings and a Funeral" is an entertaining movie but for me it is not the main romantic storyline which entertains but the array of quirky characters and amusing back stories. It's thanks to the likes of Charlotte Coleman, Simon Callow, John Hannah and James Fleet that even after 15 years "Four Weddings and a Funeral" is still a crowd pleaser.