Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. Excitement and anticipation for what the day will bring. Like any other day, for some it will bring love, for some marriage, and sadly, an occasional funeral. For this single guy, Shout Factory! came through with the 25th Anniversary edition of Four Weddings and a Funeral and there are a lot worse ways to spend the evening on February 14.
In 1994, few of us had been exposed to the talents of Hugh Grant. Yup, could follow that up with 37 jokes but I’m just moving on. Andie MacDowell was coming off the success of Groundhog Day, and director Mike Newell had a whopping $4 million to bring Hugh and Andie together for some weddings and a funeral. Not only was Newell successful in aligning these two stars, he also managed to assemble an incredibly talented cast and crew that would go on to create a brilliant British comedy that would be one of the surprise hits of the decade.
This is the tale of our perpetually single hero Charlie (Grant), who manages to fall in love while attending…well, you know. Charlie runs in a group of close friends, the majority of which are looking for love while being advised by the others. A similar dynamic landed upon the small screen on this side of the pond the same year and also had a modicum of success.
Andie McDowell plays Carrie, the love interest of Charles, who, though American, manages to regularly be on English soil for festivities. The chemistry between Grant and McDowell works as she exudes a level of confidence that plays well off of Grant's Charlie who depicts the shy guy that feels a bit out of his league. The interaction between the two is fun as is the story, but this is an ensemble and the success is built on comedic performances and writing (screenplay from Richard Curtis). Newell does an amazing job of channeling all the energy of Grant and McDowell, along with James Fleet, Simon Callow, John Hannah, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Bower, Rowan Atkinson, the late Charlotte Coleman, and the rest of the cast who were all funny even when not speaking. Though the film did go slightly over budget, what was accomplished will be enjoyed for many years to come.
The new 25th anniversary release, which hit store shelves on February 12th, has plenty of bonus material including a new 4K scan from the original cameral negative and “The Wedding Photographer”, an interview with director of photography Michael Coulter which is new to this release. There is the usual deleted scenes and marketing material as well as some featurettes and a documentary, all of which would be better if they were combined into one piece of material. .
Recommendation: The environments created at these five events are not only memorable, but enjoyable as well. We like the people in this story because they are familiar and funny. Things fail a bit when we leave the places described in the title. The scene at the end of the film that takes place in the rain is poorly written and acted, though to the defense of McDowell, I doubt anyone could deliver the “Is it still raining?” line.
The 25th Anniversary release looks and sounds great. The wonderful thing about having it on disc is, if the dialogue moves too fast, rewind and watch it again. It just keeps getting better.