“The People We Hate at the Wedding” does not aim to do anything revolutionary or experimental with the comedy genre, nor should it be expected to. Its aim is to be a feel-good film and it sort of achieves that. But from the predictable plot structure and series of obvious zingers to the eye-rolling litany of needle drops on the nose, “The People We Hate at the Wedding” is awkwardly executed.
Bell can’t carry the entire film on her shoulders, though she puts in a valiant effort as the undeniable standout of both the film’s humor and heart. She nails most of her punchlines, and her execution of Alice’s blunt, worn facade perfectly sets up the character arc that Bell achieves with a seamless transition. Her chemistry with Dennis (Dustin Milligan), her opposite in the film’s will-they-won’t-they subplot, is believable even within the confines of their overwritten dialogue. Their pairing is the only relationship in the film that feels sufficiently matched in terms of performance and therefore narrative credibility.
Platt is bone dry in most of his scenes, becoming almost confused with every line he delivers. His comedic acting feels desperate, and his character’s emotional “peak” is the plateau of a lackluster performance. Janney has his moments, but is a victim of either bad writing, misguided direction, or most likely both. Throughout, the film’s core source of tension, Addai-Robinson, feels disengaged from her character, the gears turning for every line constantly visible in her eyes.
But despite a disappointing deficit in performance, the value of “The People We Hate at the Wedding” still makes itself apparent. While the comedic writing lacks flow and punch, the overall narrative of the family’s confrontation with their demons makes an impression. The film cleverly examines the consequences as families age and the ways in which the methods of protecting yourself or others can become questions of intention versus effect that often go unchallenged.
But while there’s certainly merit in creating an enjoyable comedy, the massively formulaic “The People We Hate at the Wedding” isn’t quite up to scratch. Scanlon’s film makes its specialty known when the credits roll, but has a fleeting shelf life that lasts about a day in your memory before expiring.
Now playing on Prime Video.