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May 9, 2024 / Netflix

Starring: Brooke Shields, Miranda Cosgrove, Benjamin Bratt, Chad Michael Murray, Rachael Harris, Sean Teale, Wilson Cruz

Directed By: Mark Waters

Lana’s (Brooke Shields) daughter Emma (Miranda Cosgrove) returns from abroad and drops a bombshell: she's getting married. In Thailand. In a month! Things only get worse when Lana learns that the man who captured Emma's heart is the son of the man who broke hers years ago.

Written By Darren Zakus

Rating 3 out of 5

Mother of the Bride follows the romantic comedy playbook to tee, playing it a little too safe with its story and jokes, that despite being a breezy and light ninety minute escape thanks to a cast of recognizable stars, it never fully becomes the romantic comedy it had the potential to be.

If it feels like Mother of the Bride is vaguely familiar while you are watching it, you probably aren’t alone in that feeling. Playing out as a mashup of some of fan favourite romantic comedies such as Mamma Mia! and The Parent Trap, and 2022’s Ticket to Paradise with the exotic wedding location, there are very few surprises as to where this story is going. You know that Brooke Shield’s Lana is going to fall back in love with Benjamin Bratt’s Will by the end of the film, after some conflict with her daughter due to the stress of the wedding that resolves itself before the big day. The film does exactly that, with a few new plot points due to the time era of the film, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

Romantic comedies are often viewed as comfort films, as there is something wonderful about knowing exactly the feelings you are going to have watching them, and while you can’t slight Mother of the Bride for this cheesy sentiment, you can’t help but see that it could have done so better.

After a string of hits in the genre over the past six months with films like Anyone But You, The Idea of You, and even the delightfully cheesy Lindsay Lohan starring Irish Wish, all of which took the fine tuned formula of the genre and created something memorable for viewers, the screenplay of Mother of the Bride feels afraid to truly embrace the genre tropes. The jokes feel too safe, never going for a truly outrageous moment to stick out in viewers’ minds by the time the credits begin rolling, nor do the emotional moments between Lana and Will have the requisite emotional depth to them. We get bits and pieces of why they broke up back in university, and when it comes to the big confrontation of their feelings and reveal of what happened years ago, there is not much said between them. While some of the blame can lie on the film’s ninety minute runtime which does not give the story any time to breath as it races to its conclusion, the majority of it is because of a surface level screenplay that goes through the motions of the genre rather than reveling in the joy, humour and romance that has made so many romantic comedies favourite films amongst viewers.

Helping the film stay afloat is its cast led by Shields. Shields is good in the role; she’s having fun and is enjoyable to watch. Bratt is overflowing with charm, calling back to his most iconic romantic comedy role in Miss Congeniality, making his connection with Shields easy and delightful, even if the writing does not support their chemistry. Miranda Cosgrove is decent, though the script leaves her with a role not worthy of her comedic abilities despite a cute connection with her co-star Sean Teale who portrays her fiancé RJ; while Chad Michael Murray pops up as necessary to provide an alternate suitor for Shields just to act as an obstacle to the romance between Shields and Bratt. The film truly belongs to the supporting cast members of Rachael Harris, Wilson Cruz and Michael McDonald, all of whom steal every scene they are in with an infectious and brilliant comedic energy, and the film would have truly benefited from giving them all more screen time.

It is easy to write Mother of the Bride off for not being a great romantic comedy, but that does not mean that it has no entertainment value. While too safe and overly predictable, the film has its cute moments and some good laughs sprinkled throughout that make for a nice escape for viewers looking for a cheesy romantic comedy. While it's hard not to enjoy Brooke Shields and Benjamin Bratt in the lead roles, it is the supporting cast of Rachael Harris, Wilson Cruz and Michael McDonald who elevate the small moments of Mother of the Bride to help deliver the romantic comedy goodness that fans of the genre will want from this film, even if the majority of the film is a stereotypical romantic comedy that does not fully embrace the beauty of the genre.

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