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August 19, 2006 | Comments ()


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A Not-So-Mighty Wind

Confetti / Dustin Rowles

Film Reviews | August 19, 2006 | Comments ()


For those of you who adore Christopher Guest’s oeuvre but have grown ever-so-slightly tired of seeing the same cast provide variations of similar characters, the British improvisational mockumentary Confetti does something a bit unanticipated. Confetti — which does to wedding planning what Drop Dead Gorgeous did to beauty pageants and Best in Show did to dog shows — manages to be both a moderately entertaining diversion and a true testament to the genius of Guest, reminding us of just how difficult and multi-layered his improvisational films are. It’s not really that Confetti is particularly bad, it’s just that, for all the schlubbish charm of Martin Freeman (BBC’s The Office), he’s no Michael McKean; for all the perky likability of Jessica Stevenson (Spaced), she’s no Parker Posey; and no one (no one) can measure up to Christopher Guest in a genre he created.

Conceived and directed by Debbie Isitt, Confetti revolves around a contest put on by the editors (Jimmy Carr and Felicity Montagu) of Confetti magazine, which promises to give away a new house (depicted as the “artist’s impression”) to the couple with “The Most Original Wedding of the Year.” After dismissing a series of potential couples with bizarre themes — Dinosaur, Elvis, Ancient Roman with Pig Sacrifice, underwater, etc. — the editors ultimately settle upon three contestants.

The first couple Matt (Freeman) and Sam (Stevenson) enter the contest with a musical theme, though the couple is completely tone deaf (“You both sing in different keys? — Umm … yeah, that’s harmony.”). Matt lives with Sam’s family, and he spends much of the film frustrated with that lot. (“I’m going to be your sister-in-law; have you thought about that?” “Yeah, every day of my life.”) Matt’s best friend, Snoopy (Marc Wooten), meanwhile, is a singer who wants to perform a Wizard of Oz theme for the wedding, though his lyrics tend toward the non-sequiturial (“You’re draggin’ me down, you’re making me frown. Please don’t cry. What does pedantic mean?”).

The second couple, Josef and Isabelle (Stephan Mangan and Meredith MacNeill), are the uber-competitive tennis couple, seemingly (and half-assedly) modeled after Michael Hitchcock and Parker Posey’s characters in Best in Show. They’re having a tennis-themed wedding, though Isabelle may or may not be fooling around with their tennis instructor, Jesus (real-life tennis instructor, Jesus de Miquel). The editors of Confetti, however, aren’t huge fans of the couple, in large part because of the enormous size of Isabelle’s nostrils, a running gag throughout Confetti that gets old about 10 minutes in.

The final couple, Michael and Joanna (Robert Webb and Olivia Colman), are “naturists,” which is somehow distinct from nudists, though you couldn’t tell, given that Michael’s penis is on full display for much of the film. The naturists, of course, pose all sorts of problems for the magazine’s editors, who don’t want nudists on their cover, and the decision to marry in the buff ultimately causes a rift within the couple, as well. The premise of the couple, actually, is a bit of a microcosm for the entire movie: Great in theory, but poor in execution, due in some part to the fact that these actors don’t measure up to Posey, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, et al., and that Islett doesn’t really give them much to work with, aside from a faint idea of what kind of character they are and a general direction to work toward.

The 12-week setup — aided by ultra-gay wedding planners, Archie (Vincent Franklin) and Gregory (Jason Watkins) — is mostly lively, but the strained humor is more miss than hit, and the payoff doesn’t reach nearly the fever-pitch level of believable absurdity for which Guest’s films are known. Still, for all the turmoil surrounding the planning, the weddings are not only kind of fun, but unexpectedly sweet — making Confetti the sort of mockumentary that would probably be adored by the same folks who liked Love Actually. It’s not a great film, but it’s too amiable to dislike, and until For Your Consideration comes along later this year, Confetti does provide a serviceable stop-gap for anyone who might want to live on a strict mockumentary diet.

Watch the Confetti trailer.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives in a blue house with his wife in a hippie colony/college town in upstate New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.



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