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But with this most basic of premises, screenwriter Richard Curtis has crafted a moving and thoughtful comedy about the perils of singledom and that ever-elusive search for true love. In the wrong hands, it could have been a horribly schmaltzy affair, but Curtis' script--crammed with great one-liners and beautifully judged characterisations--keeps things sharp and snappy, harking back to the sparkling Hollywood romantic comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. The supporting cast, including Kristin Scott Thomas, Simon Callow and Rowan Atkinson (who starred in the Curtis-scripted television show Blackadder) is first rate, at times almost too good--John Hannah's rendition of WH Auden's poem "Funeral Blues" over the coffin of his lover is so moving you think the film will struggle to re-establish its ineffably buoyant mood. But it does, thanks in no small part to Hugh Grant as the bumbling Charles (whose star-making performance compensates for a less-than-dazzling Andie MacDowell). Though it's hardly the fault of Curtis and his team, the success of the Four Weddings did have its downside, triggering a rash of inferior British romantic comedies. In fact, we had to wait until 1999's Notting Hill for another UK film to match its winning charm (scripted, again, by Curtis and also starring Grant). --Edward Lawrenson
The extras, too, are impressive. You get an interesting group commentary by director Newell, Producer Kenworthy and writer Curtis. Also included are; 2 documentaries, TV promotions, good deleted scenes etc. There's also the short featurette which appeared on the original DVD - so you're not missing out by upgrading.
Because DVDs can be bought so cheaply nowadays, my advice is to spend the extra pound or two and buy this - it's worth a thousand more than the old release.
Charles (Hugh Grant) is a likeable chap whose friends are all getting married, leaving him as a sort of perpetual Best Man. Then American Carrie (Andie MacDowell) enters the picture and causes Charles to reassess his thoughts on marriage. Grant has charisma in spades, but sadly MacDowell does not. In fact, she is perhaps one of the least charismatic actresses ever. Not only that, but the limit of her acting ability seems to be a toothpaste-advertisement-style smile. Fortunately the casting of Charles's motley collection of single friends is excellent, and one can't help thinking he would be better off marrying one of them.
The film is almost fly-on-the-wall in its style, which gives it realism and allows it to explore the relationships within the group of friends on an intimate and everyday level. Hence the subtle humour works better than, for example, Rowan Atkinson's very obvious laugh-line attempts as a preacher with a penchant for Spoonerisms.
As one character notes, weddings have a habit of blending together in the memory and the director has played on this, creating four weddings that are visually similar and yet distinct. And of one of them is particularly memorable for the fact that it doesn't actually include a marriage ceremony. At its conclusion the film shows that whilst marriage is a noble institution, it is not for everybody.
Buy this and settle down for a enteraining night.