No matter how much planning and money goes into them, wedding ceremonies are generally all the same. Sure, there are slight variations depending on religious denomination and little personal touches, but they basically lack any sort of originality due to their overall adherence to traditions, which keep them from breaking new ground. For those not involved in the actual wedding party, and even for some who are involved, the ceremony is just a boring obstacle that must be endured before getting to the fun part, the reception. Yet, weddings continue to be, for the most part, under the guise of entertainment, as they typically have an audience.
Therein lays the basis for Confetti, a comic mockumentary that tries to spice up the idea of weddings as enjoyment for all in attendance. It follows three engaged couples as they compete in a contest for most original wedding, sponsored by a wedding magazine that's tired of showcasing, "just another woman in a white dress," on its cover. The contest seems like a great concept at first, but as the magazine's publisher (Jimmy Carr) and editor-in-chief (Felicity Montagu) discover, there is a reason why ceremonies don't often open up to new ideas.
The film, which was conceived and directed by Debbie Isitt, at times has a similar problem of being great in theory but having little success with the execution. There is only so much that can be played around with here, and while sustaining a modestly funny premise and delivering a few gut-bursting moments, it often relies on the stretching of its main jokes and gags. The first sign of trouble with the concept as a whole, for both contest and film, occurs early on during the process of selecting the three couples who will face off for the big prize. Isitt fails to present much in the way of other couples' ideas for an original wedding. So when it comes down to those who are chosen, it feels more like the only three ideas rather than the best three ideas. Even showing some entries that aren't funny would have helped, and any parody of so-called "geek weddings" (Star Wars; LOTR, etc.) would have been easy, as well as very much appreciated.
The chosen couples include Matt (Martin Freeman) and Sam (Jessica Stevenson), who want their wedding in the style of a Busby Berkeley musical, Joseph (Stephen Mangan) and Isabelle (Meredith MacNeil), who are going with a tennis motif, and Michael (Robert Webb) and Joanna (Olivia Colman), who are naturists that simply wish to get married in the nude. Each idea is different enough to provide for separate sources of humor, all stemming from a lot of simple, obvious drama. The musical couple are pretty much tone deaf, the tennis players are too competitive and the naturists aren't permitted to actually be nude. There are other storylines that supply some soapy scenes, including Matt and Sam's issues with her over-involved mother and sister (Alison Steadman and Sarah Hadland, respectively), but there really isn't much added to the thickness of the plot as the film progresses.
Rounding out the main cast and contributing the most comedic brilliance are Jason Watkins and Vincent Franklin as a pair of wedding planners, who also happen to be partners romantically. It is with this duo's hilarious interaction with and interconnecting of the contestants that Confetti ends up a real treat to watch. They ham up their scenes with riotous energy and flair, but not too distractingly goofy that they rise too far above the film's verity.
The main problem may have to do with expectations for greater goofiness. Confetti is a picture that immediately calls to mind the silliness of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries, which advance the jokes with each new scene, while often faltering in their need to try too hard. But films like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show garner more laughs, so they are easily perceived as the better examples of the genre. Yet some recent films that technically fall under the format of mockumentary, such as Brothers of the Head and Death of a President, may confuse audiences with their absence of drollery. I would almost group Confetti in with Brothers, which did have a more subtle, underlying dry wit about it, but it really falls somewhere in between that film and Guest's.
Confetti could even be more comparable to the highly improvised films of Mike Leigh, who relates to this film by having cast many of its actors at one time or another. Like Leigh, Isitt worked without a preliminary script, developing the characters and their actions with her performers along the way. So little was known, in fact, about the direction of the film's plot that the contest's winner was not even pre-arranged, and members of the cast were constantly surprised by what was happening in storylines not featuring them. So, in some ways Confetti can be appreciated for its ambition and for having favored a more realistic succession of events over cheap bits and giggles. However, this appreciation doesn't make up for the fact that it doesn't come close to Leigh's mastering of the process, and is therefore slighted by the comparison.
The fact that the banality of wedding ceremonies hasn't kept them out of the movies -- in fact they may be more featured on film than any other of life's events -- shows that people are familiar enough with them to be satisfied, rather than bored, with the lack of originality involved. Certainly there is a reason that most couples don't attempt more creativity in the planning of their weddings, and Confetti gives this reason early on and then keeps giving it more and more. Unfortunately, anyone who's been married will know before the film even begins, and without a large supply of humor to be entertained with while the characters continue figuring it out on screen, the audience would probably rather just sit through a traditional ceremony than see how the original ones turn out.