Jenny (Katherine Heigl) has been with Kitty (Alexis Bledl) for five years, and now she wants to get married and start a family. However, she’s never told her family she’s gay. Now it’s time, but they’re a fairly conservative lot and when she tells her parents, both are shocked and ask her not to tell anyone else.
While neither of them totally reject their daughter, they don’t know how to react, with Jenny’s mother (Linda Emond) in particular not knowing what to do and feeling like she doesn’t really know her child at all, while her father (Tom Wilkinson) is nonplussed but seems willing to reach out – to a point. However, in trying not to let anyone know what’s really going on or to properly deal with it, they begin to create an increasingly tangled web, which comes unstuck when Jenny decides she is not going to hide any longer and won’t pussyfoot around her parents anymore.
When Jenny’s Wedding was preparing for release in the US last year it must have seemed like perfect timing, with the movie having a well-known cast and coming not long after the Supreme Court decision that legalised gay marriage across the US. However, it made little impact and pretty much completely slipped under the radar.
The reason for that is partly because it’s initially difficult to know exactly clear who this dramedy is meant to be for. The initial coming out and the difficulties of the parents feel a little old fashioned for a gay audience. The people who would get the most from it are conservative types, but they are the least likely to watch it. On the other side, the lesbian relationship between Jenny and Kitty initially feels like a sideshow, and indeed Kitty isn’t much more than a cipher.
For the first half it feels as if the movie is searching for itself and could do with a little more pace and propulsion – indeed its initial tendency to allow the actors to take their time results in some of the jokes landing with a thud. Thankfully, after the midway point it begins to pick up steam and find a little more verve as the characters take stock of their lives and decide what matters to them. That’s most important for the parents, whose reaction to their daughter’s revelation initially feel more like a set of stock phrases and reactions than actual people, but slowly they begin to come to life, particularly after a pivotal scene at a funeral.
Jenny’s Wedding becomes more about people dealing with an issue, rather than an issue in search of some characters. There’s nothing too shocking and you won’t be too surprised about where it ends up, but by the end it has some fairly touching moments, and I have to say having been pretty unimpressed at the beginning, I was glad I watched it by the end.
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about Jenny’s Wedding is its lack of commercial success. With a well-known cast and a fairly mainstream style plot, it’s a fairly rare case of a resolutely gay-themed film pitching for wide appeal. However, it’s likely to be taken as evidence by the money men of film world that audiences don’t want gay-themed movies. It’s not evidence of that at all, it’s just not as good a film as it might have been. It’s not bad, but it could have been better.
Overall Verdict: After a slightly clumsy and badly paced first half, Jenny’s Wedding picks up steam and this tale of a family learning to accept their daughter is a lesbian turns out to be quite sweet and watchable by the end.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac