Four Weddings And A Funeral: Charles is witty and charming, but, at the age of 32, is increasingly looking like a serial monogamist. His life has been full of girlfriends, but he just can’t commit to them. He’s a man so trapped by his Englishness that he can’t truly express his feelings and the more weddings he and his close circle of friends attend, the less they want to get married themselves. Until one particular Saturday, at one particular wedding, Charles sees Carrie, the most unusual, beautiful, sharp-witted and elusive girl he’s ever encountered.
Charles tries very hard not to fall in love with her through one funeral and three more weddings (one of which is very awkwardly hers!). Until he finally finds himself standing at the altar on his own wedding day.
At last he knows who he wants to spend the rest of his life with… but it’s not the woman standing next to him in the white dress!
One of the problems I have with this film is that it just isn’t as funny as most people would have you believe. Sure, it does have some classic moments, but isn’t a laugh-a-minute epic as it was made out to be.
One of the best moments is the opening scene in which Charles has to get to the church on time for the first wedding with Scarlett, the shock of getting up late being accompanied by an endless string of “fuck” exclamations, culminating in a “bugger”. For language reasons, the airline version replaces all the “fuck”s with “bugger”s, which is strange since I’d imagine the latter is far more painful, not to mention illegal…
Hugh Grant is the best thing about the film and is given the best funny lines, although after his profile was raised thanks to this film, it was brought back to Earth with a bang (literally) when he was caught with American hooker Divine Brown. His next film, another comedy called Nine Months was advertised with a poster showing co-star Julianne Moore whispering something into Hugh Grant’s ear. Billboards around the USA were doctored with a speech bubble saying: “That’ll be $25 please!”.
Andie MacDowell provides the love interest, but does little more other than bat her eyelids and speak with a southern twang to her voice. Simon Callow and John Hannah provide the male love-interests, being partners, plus further love-interests come in the form of Anna Chancellor and a wedding at the start for Sara Crowe, best-known in the UK for her appearance in the “Philadelphia cream cheese” TV adverts.
Rowan Atkinson is fine at times as the bungling trainee priest, especially in his early scenes when Kristin Scott Thomas draws comparisons between getting married and losing one’s virginity, but I didn’t warm to his scenes of cocking up his first wedding ceremony.
The cast is fleshed-out with Charlotte Coleman who doesn’t seem to have aged a day since I first saw her on TV many years ago, plus James Fleet, one of the stars of last year’s excellent Channel 4 comedy-drama Underworld, David Bower and Corin Redgrave.
The picture quality is almost excellent, with some minor artifacts noticeable on static areas but only if you’re really looking at them, so for most people these will go by unnoticed. It’s a shame this film is presented in fullscreen as it is is pan-and-scan as opposed to open-matte so you’ll lose approximately 28% of the original picture.
The sound on the disc is MPEG Stereo Surround and is clear, but such a film is hardly an explosion-fest surround-sound-spectacular, so is mainly used for directional effects and ambience.
- Chapters/Trailer: There are 21 chapters spread throughout the film and as it’s almost two hours long. it could have used more. The disc also contains the theatrical trailer as well as the music promo for Wet Wet Wet’s “Love Is All Around”
For some reason you can’t fast-forward through a particular chapter though as it causes the DVD-ROM drive to lock up – a problem I don’t have on any other disc. Dead Man Walking will allow this, but has a similar problem by not allowing you to move to next or previous chapter.
Cast and Production Notes: There are brief biographies and filmographies listed for Mike Newell, Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant.
Also Available: This option brings up a small list of other DVD titles available now or coming soon.
Languages: The disc contains English, French and Spanish language soundtracks, plus subtitles for the same and Dutch. Even with the subtitles turned off, they kick in for the hand-signing scene involving Charles telling his deaf brother how badly things are going.
Menu: The interactive menu is better here than on most titles with a click of the mouse doing exactly what is required, unlike some other titles I have reviewed.
Another thing to note is that on playing the disc you can’t skip past the Polygram logo and copyright info.
Four Weddings and a Funeral is definitely one of Polygram’s showcase films. Not only was it the most profitable British film before The Full Monty took over, but it has appeared on almost every consumer video format available so far in the UK – video tape (pan-and-scan), Laserdisc (widescreen), Video CD (pan-and-scan) and now DVD.
Overall, not a bad effort from Polygram, but could’ve been a lot better by including the widescreen version as well.
Running time: 112 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
Sound: MPEG Stereo Surround
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Dutch
Format: Fullscreen: 4:3
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Mike Newell
Producer: Duncan Kenworthy
Screenplay: Richard Curtis
Music: Richard Rodney Bennett
Charles: Hugh Grant
Carrie: Andie MacDowell
Gareth: Simon Callow
Matthew: John Hannah
Scarlett: Charlotte Coleman
Father Gerald: Rowan Atkinson
Henrietta: Anna Chancellor
Fiona: Kristin Scott-Thomas
Tom: James Fleet
David: David Bower
Laura the Bride: Sara Crowe
Hamish: Corin Redgrave
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.