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Our Family Wedding, Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

 Part I: Plot

The film Our Family Wedding was released in 2010 and tells the story of the blending of two very different families and how their members interact and respond to each other in different ways. The story unfolds as two people have met, fallen in love, and are living together. They are embarking on a trip to Laos together so that the male, who has just graduated from medical school, can complete an assignment for Doctors Without Borders. However, before they leave the country, they want to get married. However, complicating factors ensue, as the couple are from entirely different backgrounds, as one is African American and the other is Mexican American. It is evident early on that their parents and other family members might not agree with the decision to get married due to significant differences in their cultures and their values. When the two cultures and families clash when they first meet, it is evident that there will be a series of challenges that the couple must face before they are able to get married and to be happy. As the couple continues to plan for their wedding, they have a number of disagreements regarding their living situation, as Doctors Without Borders is an unpaid position, thereby leaving the other to support the couple. By the end of the film, the families have begun to realize that the marriage is not their business and that they should be happy for the blended couple. This paves the way for the couple to marry and to use traditions from both cultures as part of the wedding ceremony, and for the families to be more open to the customs and traditions of other cultures.

Characters

The primary characters within the film are as follows:

Marcus Boyd as played by Lance Gross: Marcus is of African American descent and has recently graduated from Columbia Medical School and has committed to a one-year term in Laos volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (IMDB, 2013).

Lucia Ramirez as played by America Ferrera: Lucia is of Mexican-American descent and has recently dropped out of Columbia Law School to work as a volunteer teacher for recent immigrants (IMDB, 2013). Lucia has agreed to go to Laos with her fiancée Marcus as he volunteers for Doctors Without Borders (IMDB, 2013).

Bradford Boyd as played by Forest Whitaker: Bradford is Marcus’ father and is not thrilled upon meeting who would turn out to be Lucia’s father for the first time (IMDB, 2013). Bradford does not support the marriage of his son Marcus and his bride-to-be, Lucia, and makes it very difficult for his son and does what he can to alienate Lucia and her family (IMDB, 2013).

Angela as played by Regina King: Angela is the best friend of Bradford Boyd, but Bradford is smitten with her but has not yet revealed his true feelings (IMDB, 2013).

Miguel Ramirez as played by Carlos Mencia: Miguel is Lucia’s father and instantly gets off on the wrong foot with Bradford Boyd when he is discovered to be towing his car in the early part of the film (IMDB, 2013). Miguel does not appreciate Bradford’s tone and is racially motivated in his response (IMDB, 2013). From this point forward, Miguel does not agree with the wedding but goes along with it by encouraging the adoption of his Mexican heritage for the wedding theme (IMDB, 2013).

Sonia Ramirez as played by Diana Maria Riva: Sonia is Lucia’s mother and is not happy about her daughter’s pending nuptials (IMDB, 2013). Sonia does her best to undermine the Boyds by pursuing her own agenda with the wedding planning effort (IMDB, 2013).

Isabel Ramirez as played by Anjelah Johnson: Isabel is Lucia’s sister and does not agree with the couple or the wedding that is being planned (IMDB, 2013). However, Isabel begins to change her tune as she recognizes the importance of cultural diversity, as she is also shown to be engaged to an Asian-American (IMDB, 2013).

Theme

The film represents a number of important themes due to the nature of the subject matter and the ability of the cast to integrate cohesively to tell an important story. One of the most important themes that runs throughout the film is the clash of two cultures that each possess unique diversity and do not mesh on paper. It is important to recognize that cultural clashes are commonplace throughout society, but when there are stereotypes and other factors at work, these concerns are even more prevalent and defining in different ways. The story unfolds by expanding existing stereotypes regarding African Americans and Mexican-Americans to establish a significant conflict between the two families (Cinemablend.com). However, the film also portrays the importance of love and how it can override individual differences through commitment and understanding (Cinemablend.com). At the same time, it is necessary to address the challenges of love when culture diversity is too great to ignore, as this demonstrates the importance of different perspectives and how they are integrated into relationships in important ways (Cinemablend.com).

Point of View

The point of view of the story is told from the perspective of several characters, with the underlying premise as told from the couple’s point of view that they belong together in spite of their differences and that their families should not have any business trying to interfere with their relationship (Cinemablend.com). However, the parents also have a point of view because they are, simply put, the parents and are involved in the planning of the wedding (Cinemablend.com). Their perspectives are important in establishing the belief that cultural diversity and the blending of couples from very different cultures is not the best idea, as this clash will lead to bad outcomes (Cinemablend.com). It is also important to address other familial perspectives, such as that of Isabel Ramirez, because she has much influence on her sister Lucia (Cinemablend.com). These different points of view have a significant bearing on the film and its outcomes because these clashes serve as the cornerstone of the film and its premise (Cinemablend.com).

Setting

The film begins in New York, where Marcus and Lucia are living after Marcus has graduated from Columbia University Medical School (IMDB.com, 2013). However, early scenes also take place in Los Angeles, where Lucia and Marcus’ families live (IMDB.com, 2013). Much of the film takes place in Los Angeles because this location is where the wedding will take place (IMDB.com, 2013).

Symbolism

The film largely symbolizes the involvement of family members in planning a wedding and how this may lead to complete and utter chaos in many cases (Solomons, 2010). One of the key issues raised in the film is represented by cultural clashes, and it is evident that many stereotypes are brought to the fold during the film because of the assumptions made regarding African Americans and Mexican-Americans (Solomons, 2010). It is also evident that the film uses the symbol of a wedding as a form of chaos and disorder, as well as the family tension that often ensues when weddings take place (Solomons, 2010). Along this path, the film also represents a number of challenges in blending families, as it is perceived throughout the film that combining families from different cultures is not always a good idea, one that may lead to the gradual destruction of family units over time (Solomons, 2010). These symbols are represented throughout the film and play a significant role in shaping the film’s premise and its eventual outcome (Solomons, 2010). Finally, there is a strong undercurrent of disdain and perhaps hatred between African Americans and Mexican-Americans that has been introduced throughout the film through the clashes experienced early on between the two fathers (Solomons, 2010).

Part II

The film Our Family Wedding has a number of good intentions with its premise and with some great casting choices, particularly Forest Whitaker as Bradford Boyd. Whitaker, as an Oscar-winning actor, brings some credibility and strength to the role that might not have been observed with a different casting choice. However, the film is far too excessive in its efforts to promote longstanding racial stereotypes, many of which are inappropriate and irresponsible, and some of which are not even grounded in fact. Therefore, the film’s stereotypes are one of its primary downfalls because they saturate the story telling at all levels. In addition, the story misrepresents cultural clashes because the differences that are experienced, while common, are overdone and are sometimes inappropriate. The film appears to capitalize on the recent success of America Ferrera in her primetime role as Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty. This casting choice was made because of her popularity in television, but she appears to be mismatched with Lance Gross. Although the pairing was created with good intentions, it does not provide a positive outcome because the couple seems largely forced and challenged at every turn.

It is difficult to buy into Whitaker’s turn as Bradford Boyd because he is also a walking stereotype. His behavior as a divorcee is highly predictable and does not do him any favors in questioning why he accepted this role in the first place. Although the film attempts to convey some degree of comic relief with this portrayal, the character is not effective in his efforts to stand up to his son and his decision to marry into a different culture. Furthermore, his assumptions regarding his soon-to-be daughter in-law are inappropriate and ineffective on many levels. Carlos Mencia as Miguel Ramirez suffers from much of the same stereotypical writing and does not do him any justice. Diana Maria Riva as Isabel Ramirez shows a little promise because of her recognition that cultures can eventually get along, but this premise is too little, too late in attempting to save the film. These characterizations, along with lazy and stereotypical writing, represent a challenge to the viewer and make the film more tedious than it needs to be.

Finally, the wedding chaos that ensues, along with the conflicts between family members, are clichéd and did not hold my interest. The film relied on these tricks far too much and they led to a less than interesting story. Wedding chaos between families is often overdone in films, and to add cultural differences to the mix at this level is disheartening and difficult to view. In addition, the film takes its use of stereotypes to a new level that is both disturbing and typical. These stereotypes play into the minds of the viewer and lead to a difficult and tedious point of view. Perhaps a fresh perspective would have made the film more interesting and less frustrating to watch.

Part III

In many ways, although the cultures portrayed in the film are significantly different on the surface, they are very similar in the film because they demonstrate a level of disdain and frustration with each other that appears to have a common purpose. The African-American and Mexican-American cultures are far too stereotypical in many ways and do not provide an accurate portrayal of the circumstances surrounding the film and the issues that are introduced. The use of accents and stereotypes for the Mexican-American characters are far too familiar and are not interesting to the viewer. The film also goes out of its way to develop the African-American father as a ladies man, which is a common perspective that is used in many films where the parents are divorced. The clash of cultures that exists within the film also represent a challenge to the viewer because they lack a realistic approach that is often important to films that attempt to take a common problem and to make it unique and interesting. From this perspective, the film does not do the clash of cultures any real justice, instead relying on stereotypes and other perspectives that are not easily accepted and taken seriously. In reality, African Americans and Mexican-Americans possess very diverse beliefs, traditions, and values, but they typically coexist in society. Therefore, the clash that erupts in the film could have been any culture clashing with another culture, and does not appear to be specific to African-Americans and Mexican-Americans.

The characters that are portrayed in the film also appear to be consistent with the assumptions that are made regarding their cultures and the customs that prevail within their lives. Nonetheless, the characters of Lucia and Marcus are written in an effort to convey undying and unwavering love that is not affected by any circumstance, including cultural differences. Therefore, these characters are perhaps most realistic within the film and their conflicts are perhaps most relevant. Furthermore, these characters appear to be the most root worthy and provide the most interesting part of the film from a viewer’s perspective. These characters and their differences are less remarkable than those portrayed within their larger family units, so their stories are more believable in this regard.

Part IV

Our Family Wedding tells the story of a couple whose love appears to be destined to overcome all challenges, including the clash of two very different cultures. The film also attempts to convey the comedic aspects of weddings and how families erupt in chaos when weddings are being planned, as different ideas begin to flow. The film also strives to address the comedic challenges of planning a wedding not only from the couple’s perspective, but also from that of their families. This is an important step in demonstrating the issues that surround weddings and why families clash not only in regards to specific ideas, but also to the pressures of different cultural norms and expectations. There are considerable issues throughout the film that are disconcerting to the viewer, including the many stereotypes that exist and that play a significant role in facilitating negative perceptions throughout the film. It is important to recognize these concerns from the viewer’s perspective and to demonstrate that the film is lacking in quality and creativity in many areas. The concept of wedding chaos and family feuds within films are largely overdone and often lack any real semblance of creativity. However, the writer uses many of these clichés to the fullest possible extent to maximize effect, but in turn, minimizes quality in the process.

In viewing this film, perhaps the most important lesson to be learned is that weddings bring out the worst in people and in writers. However, this might not seem to be the lesson that was desired when the film was written. It appears that the writers sought to convey other perspectives regarding family dynamics and cultural diversity within the film, but these are poorly described and are negatively portrayed through the characters. Perhaps the film’s most significant weakness is its inability to overcome these stereotypes and to address the importance of different perspectives in a genuine way. On the contrary, the film does not successfully approach cultural diversity with a fresh perspective, and uses age-old tricks and clichés to tell the story. From a viewer’s point of view, the film does not provide any real semblance of understanding of what it might be like in a real-life situation involving a similar couple because the stereotypes are so prevalent and essentially overtake the film in its entirety. If the writer had toned down these stereotypes and had written the characters more thoughtfully, the film might have resonated better with the average viewer, rather than to serve as one big walking and never ending stereotype.

References

Cinemablend.com. Our family wedding (2010). Retrieved from http://www.cinemablend.com/Our-Family-Wedding-4103.html

IMDB.com (2013). Our family wedding. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305583/

Solomons, J. (2010). Our family wedding. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/jun/20/our-family-wedding-film-review

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