The best way to describe “Confetti” (Fox Searchlight) would be to say that it’s a romantic comedy directed by Christopher Guest (“This Is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show,” etc.) – except that Guest isn’t directing it at all. Filling in is a Brit by the name of Debbie Isitt, a writer and director new to American audiences.
“Confetti” is a “mockumentary,” meaning it’s shot like a documentary, but with actors performing from a skeletal script that generally ridicules deserving subject matter: we’ve seen aging metal bands, community theater and dog shows from this genre; “Confetti” takes a shot at weddings.
The title refers to a bridal magazine hosting a contest for “most original wedding of the year,” and the film “mockuments” the three competing couples. The concept works because it sounds like a show on Fox. As one character puts it: “Not everybody wants their special day ruined by a gimmick … but some people do.” And we know that’s reality.
It’s better than reality TV, of course, and that’s mostly because the characters aren’t nearly as despicable as their real-life counterparts probably would be. The redeeming qualities left on the cutting room floor at television networks make it to the big screen, because this is a romantic comedy, and the point is to leave the theater smiling.
Our couples draw from archetypes familiar to fans of “Best in Show,” the hilarious “mockumentary” about dog shows. The first is a slightly awkward pair of regular Britons who want their wedding to be a 1930s Hollywood musical. We then have ultra-competitive yuppies, wishing for a wedding to reflect their love for tennis. Finally, there’s the more offbeat, a pair of naturalists wanting to be wed wearing their birthday suits. Turning these dreams into (sometimes harsh) realities are the gay wedding planners. Rounding out the players are overbearing parents, siblings and magazine publishers.
The characters act slightly more real than real people put in this situation probably would, but that’s probably less of a testament to the ability of the cast than it is a testament to how much of a misnomer “reality TV” is. The improvised lines often fall short of funny, but the emotional (and more likely scripted) moments work really well, and it grants these characters a welcome dignity never offered to the buffoons in Guest’s movies.
You’ll recognize a couple of faces along the way. The one magazine exec looking vaguely familiar is Jimmy Carr, British comedian and host of the Comedy Central late night game show “Distraction.” But more importantly, there’s Martin Freeman, playing Matt, half of the charming Hollywood musical couple. Freeman has perfected the role of the loveable British everyman over the years and has gained fame as one of the awkward porn actors in “Love Actually,” as Tim from the U.K. version of the TV mockumentary “The Office,” and most recently as Arthur Dent in the film version of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Freeman personifies the film in a way: witty and sentimental; slight, but charming. “Confetti” has geek appeal for the “This Is Spinal Tap” fans finding themselves in Freeman’s fictitious footwear, but it’s plenty moving if you want to bring a date that loved “Love Actually.”
“Confetti” starts Friday at the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema.
This article appeared in the September 21, 2006 issue of the Hatchet.