Movie Review: Pleasant 'Wedding' coasts along on likable characters

America Ferrera and Lance Gross play a couple engaged to be married over the objections of their fathers in Rick Famuyiwa's 'Our Family Wedding.'Scott GarfieldFox Searchlight Pictures

America Ferrera and Lance Gross play a couple engaged to be married over the objections of their fathers in Rick Famuyiwa's "Our Family Wedding."Scott GarfieldFox Searchlight Pictures

"Our Family Wedding" is a modest culture-clash ensemble comedy that distinguishes itself from the formula pack by protecting the integrity of its story and treating its characters with respect.

These are qualities that distinguish the work of director Rick Famuyiwa, which may explain why he has made only three films (the others are "Brown Sugar" and "The Wood") in the past decade, and why he has never had a breakout box-office hit.

America Ferrera and Lance Gross play a couple engaged to be married over the objections of their fathers in Rick Famuyiwa's 'Our Family Wedding.'Scott GarfieldFox Searchlight Pictures

America Ferrera and Lance Gross play a couple engaged to be married over the objections of their fathers in Rick Famuyiwa's "Our Family Wedding."Scott GarfieldFox Searchlight Pictures

Perhaps it's a sign of progress that white folks aren't even part of the film's guess-who's-coming-to-dinner shenanigans, which begin when the Hispanic Lucia (America Ferrera, TV's "Ugly Betty") and the African-American Marcus (Lance Gross) announce their engagement to their startled families.

As in all such wedding movies, the amusingly stubborn fathers are the apparent obstacles to happiness. Lucia's family-man dad, played by "Mind of Mencia" standup comic Carlos Mencia, owns a successful towing business; Marcus' "pop," played by Forest Whitaker, is a single celebrity radio disc jockey with a Barry White voice and a history of one-night stands, although we suspect he'll wind up with his "best friend" lawyer (Regina King) before the end credits roll.

Pleasant, attractively photographed and somewhat slackly paced, the movie coasts on the likability of its performers. For the most part, Famuyiwa and writers Malcolm Spellman and Wayne Conley eschew the outrageous antics and cartoonish supporting characters found in most family/romantic comedies these days, although actor Charlie Murphy (brother of Eddie Murphy) is a grimacing, jarring distraction in a couple of scenes. And then there's the unfortunate business of the goat that eats the Viagra (don't ask) ...

With its undemonstrative musical score and low-key tone, "Our Family Wedding" has some of the virtues we associate with "indie" films. What identifies it as a commercial Hollywood production is its willful ignorance of economic reality. Both families live in huge, comfortable homes that tell us money is not one of their worries. No wonder Lucia is able to quit law school to be a volunteer teacher at a charter school for immigrants, while Marcus makes plans to work for "Doctors Without Borders" in Laos.

— John Beifuss; 529-2394

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