Spoiled, rich Harvard classmates unite for a swank New England wedding in "The Romantics," a movie that gives the word "plebian" a good name. It's difficult to ascertain whether first time writer-director Galt Niederhoffer, adapting her 2008 novel, regards her troupe with a jaundiced or a misty eye. Probably both.
A little of this movie's preppy, whiny expostulation goes a long way. I've never been a big fan of the wedding-movie genre anyway: Robert Altman's "A Wedding" had so many subplots involving so many dysfunctional subsets of so many families that you needed a flowchart to follow it.
More recently, "Margot at the Wedding" and, especially, "Rachel Getting Married" pulled out all the stops. What a relief it would be to watch a wedding movie that, for a change, wasn't all about the wedding as primal scene.
In "The Romantics," Katie Holmes plays Laura, the former roomie of Lila (Anna Paquin) and her maid of honor. Tom (Josh Duhamel), the hunky groom, was, until fairly recently, Laura's main squeeze. Laura and Tom are still sort of in love, or love-hate – it's not clear who broke up with whom, or why – and much distraught jabbering ensues over the course of 24 hours. Everybody is ensconced in the fancy seaside estate presided over by Lila's mother (Candice Bergen), so at least the caterwauling – not to mention the requisite getting-drunk-at-the-rehearsal-dinner scene – has a lush backdrop.
The actors, who also include Jeremy Strong, Malin Åkerman, Adam Brody, and an alarmingly elfin-looking Elijah Wood, are generally OK, and Holmes is sometimes more than that. But they are asked to provide high drama with middling material. It's possible that Niederhoffer was too close to her novel to stand back from its excesses. She's made a seriously self-indulgent movie about self-indulgent people. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity, language, and some drug material.)
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