In Love, Wedding, Marriage, Mandy Moore stars as a marriage counselor with a doctorate in psychology, a flaky sister (Jessica Szohr), and a hunky new husband (Kellan Lutz). And because she is the heroine of a contemporary romantic comedy, she is thoroughly, irrevocably bonkers. Six weeks after her wedding, consumed with planning a surprise 30th anniversary party for her parents (Jane Seymour and James Brolin), she heads down a manic-break-masquerading-as-screwball-hijinks path, prompted by the pair’s announcement that they’re divorcing. Desperate to stop their separation and affirm her own sense of idealized romanticism, she drags them through wacky therapy sessions and a faked suicide attempt, all while neglecting her spouse, who begins to wonder what he signed up for.
Love, Wedding, Marriage is the directorial debut of Dermot Mulroney, who’s starred in his share of rom-coms, but doesn’t bring any noteworthy insights on the ailing genre to his first turn behind the camera. (His major stylistic venture is a scene in which Moore talks to her own offscreen shrink, shot in a series of tight, oddly framed close-ups that would seem more in place in a horror movie.) Moore has never set the screen on fire, but she can be a passable actress; the problem with the role of Eva is that it would require someone with near-supernatural charm to overcome the character’s unctuous qualities, and Moore doesn’t fit the bill. Szohr, as the wacky sibling, at least appears to be having a little fun, while Lutz is primarily there for decorative purposes. Seymour and Brolin’s arc is cartoonish, though more watchable than the unfunny travails of the film's primary couple.
The “romantic” half of Love, Wedding, Marriage’s romantic comedy doesn’t work, but that isn’t nearly as problematic as the film’s profound unfunniness. Its hackneyed attempts at humor never get anywhere near a metaphorical punchline. For instance: Brolin decides he’s rediscovering his Jewishness, so he starts using “kvetching” in conversation and asking if the beer he’s drinking is kosher. Hilarious! Lutz’s goofy best friend marries a Polish girl he just met so she can stay in the country, even though they don’t speak the same language. Zany! The couples attend a group counseling session in which everyone is made to chant “Marriage to the max!” Is that even supposed to get laughs? It’s hard to tell. Instead of developing characters and having humor come from them, the film shoehorns its cast into a series of allegedly wacky scenarios to fill time on the way to a meaningless resolution. If the rom-com keeps heading in this direction, we could all use a trial separation.