Destination Wedding | Review

★★★

Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder together again? Really? Clearly, Victor Levin hasn’t watched their grandiose Dracula, else he’d know this pair of 90s faves can’t muster the slightest crackle of on-screen chemistry. Admittedly, their pairing in sci-fi head-scratcher A Scanner Darkly wasn’t egregious, but assessing the chemistry between drugged-up animated performers is challenging at best.

The pair have been pals for years, which, you’d imagine, would work to their advantage. Sadly, it seems to have the polar effect, giving rise to an easy, chummy vibe in lieu of a sizzling, romantic one. Usually, it’s best to avoid pulling extra-textual stuff into reviews but it seems prudent to throw this out there: Reeves thinks he and Ryder ‘make a good couple.’ Delusion is the only relevant adjective here.

Anyhoo, the mismatched pair star in Levin’s rom-com, where the romance between a couple of snide misanthropes is boiled down to an acerbic scathe. In what can only be described as a meet-cute arranged by Satan himself – one that would work perfectly in The Good Place universe – Frank and Lindsay are pulled into each other’s gravitational fields by the titular destination wedding of a mutual frenemy. They first cross paths at the airport, where an almost instantaneous mutual loathing ensues. The devious powers that be then conspire to pose them in a chain of scenarios, each of which tests their tolerance for each other and those around them.

We stay close on Frank and Lindsay throughout, Levin strategically ignoring everything outside the boundaries of their interplay. This could so easily have resulted in awkward contrivance; the reality, though, is closer to intelligent shtick. The one issue with such a ploy is it makes Destination Wedding a sinewy bite to eat for those not keen on its leads. Nevertheless, if you manage to see it through, a palate cleanser awaits.

This two-man-band is a refreshing novelty item of sorts. It shows there really is ‘someone for everyone,’ a hope Lindsay desperately clings onto in the face of Frank’s scorn at the suggestion. Destination Wedding demonstrates even contemptible egomaniacs can source love in the most unexpected places. It’s merely a case of finding that one human you hate the least from a murky ocean of undesirables.

It’s this unorthodox premise we see laid out in this partially predictable comedy, and one that also gives it a slightly crisp edge. Ill-suited guests hooking up at nuptials may have generously fed the narratives of many a comparable title in the past but how many were capable of such a repugnant measure of negativity? How many could be compared to a cruel game of offline trolling with the only other equally rancorous person on earth? Very few! Fellow cynics rejoice, for this darkly brutalist take on amour grabs hold of a few threadbare romantic comedy tropes and whips them up into something devilish in hell’s kitchen.

While the overall product toes the line of mediocrity thanks to some overcooked dialogue, the pessimistic badinage between Levin’s characters just about saves Destination Wedding from the ruinous corollary of bringing these spark-free buddies together in the same plot. Other shrewd decisions, including a beguiling Californian location and jaunty soundtrack, help keep it out of the film hall of lame. Ultimately, it’s also nigh impossible not to admire Reeves and Ryder flipping the bird at their haters. With each’s success in recent years, it’s no wonder they’re drawing a bead on the sky, smirking while they point to the flock of flying f***s they don’t give.

Steven Allison

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