Hot Take: It tries too hard sometimes and feels like an odd combination of Before Sunrise and Curb Your Enthusiasm BUT Destination Wedding is still worth the trip.
Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder have worked together before. Destination Wedding happens to be their 4th film together though it takes a Google to remember anything beyond Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (That’s why I’m not holding it against Entertainment Weekly’s Maureen Lee Lenker who failed to mention The Private Lives of Pippa though the two weren’t necessarily together in that film which could be why it wasn’t mentioned, too.) They’ve known each other for nearly 30 years and it’s obvious the two enjoy each other’s company. That’s what made their pairing so unusual as Destination Wedding tried to get rolling. In the beginning, it was hard to imagine these two not liking each other despite the fact the characters they portrayed were supposed to not care for each other’s company much. However, as the film progresses and as their relationship evolves through a number of forced pairings at a destination wedding (hence, the title Destination Wedding), the fact that Reeves and Ryder play off each other so well helps them win over the audience, if they didn’t check out early on.
Lindsay (Ryder) and Frank (Reeves) don’t seem to care for each other much. They meet at a small airport headed to Paso Robles for the same wedding. Before they even know they’re headed to the same location, their paths cross and Frank’s duplicitous attempt to sneak ahead of Lindsay to board their flight is met with disdain. Despite both of their efforts to get on the plane early, the pair get stuck in the only 2 seats adjoining on this 8 person flight (The film’s best example of trying too hard) and they immediately begin bickering throughout the flight. The scene which involves their inability to open a bag of peanuts (There’s that hint of Curb) and one of the film’s many Before Sunrise-esque banter the characters share. From there on, it’s lather, rinse, repeat as the pair continue to run into each other and become each other’s de facto wedding dates for lack of a better description as Lindsay confronts her ex-fiancee (Whose wedding it is) and Frank confronts the family he keeps his distance from. (The groom is also his brother.)
There’s plenty going on here and way too many coincidences and conveniences to be a great film, however, it nails enough funny (sometimes hilarious) moments that Destination Wedding succeeds. Essentially, it’s Reeves and Ryder and their ability to play off of each other that carries the film as the script has a habit of being verbose. It’s designed for an older crowd but not too old to feel out of touch. The cynicism is heavy and it’s dark, bitter tone might be too much for some to bear. Though the audience I saw it with were audibly laughing throughout which isn’t something you often see achieved in a small theater with a handful of people.
Whether to head to Destination Wedding or not may boil down to your affinity for Reeves and/or Ryder. If these are two performers you can get behind, you’ll be able to look past the film’s obvious flaws and enjoy the parts that click. There’s enough of them to make for a satisfying viewing experience and enough memorable moments to keep you chatting beyond the flick if the topic of “What did you see recently?” comes up.
Reeves and Ryder are delightful even at their most caustic and sardonic.
Reality is too cynical at the moment to enjoy such a film.