Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’s tepid pro-integration sermonizing felt anachronistic even back in 1967. Yet 43 years later, lazy filmmakers are still treating interracial marriage as the kind of taboo that has crudely stereotyped grandmothers fainting in horror. Like Dinner, Our Family Wedding stacks the deck by making its central couple—handsome recent medical-school graduate Lance Gross and idealistic educator America Ferrera—impossibly perfect overachievers to whom no one could reasonably object. But Carlos Mencia, as Ferrara’s protective father, nevertheless behaves as if Gross is traveling to Laos with Ferrara to sit on his ass eating bonbons, not selflessly serving humanity as a Doctors Without Borders volunteer.
Dueling dads Mencia and Forest Whitaker (as Gross’ playboy single father) get off to a bumpy start when Mencia tows Whitaker’s beloved sports car. The filmmakers keep ratcheting up the tension between smooth yet easily agitated radio personality Whitaker and conservative hothead Mencia in increasingly far-fetched ways that say less about our national schisms along race and class lines than they say about the film’s desperate need to keep the fathers at each other’s throats until it’s narratively convenient for them to hug and make up.
Most comedies would be content to mine the comic possibilities of Viagra only once, especially if they’re going to devote considerable screen time to the dramatic acting of Carlos Mencia. But director Rick Famuyiwa isn’t about to let shame get in the way of recycling a gag that’s brutally unfunny the first time around. So Famuyiwa doubles up: First, Mencia stumbles upon Whitaker’s Viagra stash while flailing around inside his zanily malfunctioning automated bathroom. Later, a mischievous talking goat downs a bottle of Viagra and attempts to make sweet love to Whitaker. In Tyler Perry style, Famuyiwa helpfully segregates the film’s dramatic and comic elements, so the aforementioned Viagra bits co-exist with earnest scenes of the dads having heart-to-heart talks with their children. We remain a nation divided, but hopefully we’ve at least progressed beyond the need for clumsy message movies about racial tolerance, as fortified with dick jokes.