Making the Grades
If you can remember when Sidney Poitier had to break the ice with his white suburban in-laws in the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, then you’ll be able to guess what problem is about to erupt during Our Family Wedding. In this updated version the clash happens between Hispanics and African Americans.
The potential groom, Marcus Boyd (Lance Gross) has more than cultural and racial differences to bridge after he and his fiancée Lucia Ramirez (America Ferrera) return to their family’s homes in Los Angeles to announce their engagement. Their fathers, Brad Boyd and Miguel Ramirez (Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia), have already had a previous close encounter of the interracial kind when Ramirez’s towing company hauled Brad’s costly car away for a parking violation. Add Lucia’s mother Donia (Diana-Maria Riva) in the throws of a midlife crisis, and her Mexican grandmother (Lupe Ontiveros) who literally faints the first time she sets eyes on Marcus’s black skin, and you have a recipe for a mixed bag of racial tensions, uncomfortable jokes and tedious wedding plans. And all this fun happens before a goat eats Brad’s bulk-sized bottle of Viagra.
This movie should have had great family-viewing potential. Messages about racial harmony, and the importance of families and marriage are overriding themes. Unfortunately these positive elements are painfully developed through a non-stop series of difficult meetings and angry encounters. As well, we learn that Brad, a popular smooth-talking radio host, slept with countless women after his first marriage broke up. (We also see his imagination envisioning his ex being run over by a bus.) His best friend and lawyer (Regina King), truly the most levelheaded character in the script, tries to help him navigate his minefield of a life, but you have to wonder what motivates her to care for this playboy.
Non-explicit sexual discussions and infrequent profanities are among the content concerns. However, while bad words are few in number, they do include a sexual expletive and another crude term for sex, along with terms of deity. Family squabbles abound, racial slurs are heard and alcohol flows freely in some scenes. Finally, there’s the goat that takes a liking to Brad for a few seconds of animal awkwardness.
While the conclusion attempts to tie up every last string and ensure nobody leaves the wedding without a mate (or the theater without a smile) Our Family Wedding likely won’t leave you wishing for an invitation to the clans’ next shindig.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Our Family Wedding.
What is the significance of the identified ethnicities in this film? Do you think American society is any more tolerant of interracial marriage than it was in 1967 when Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, was released?
A character in this film says, "If your lady loves you, she laughs at your jokes." How important is a sense of humor in a relationship?