With “Bridezilla,” the Pandora’s box of the reality-marriage industry was successfully, and lamentably, pried open. Debbi Isitt’s “Confetti” follows in mock-suit. The tongue-in-cheek British mockumentary dissects the once-sacred institution, now fallen prey to the vultures of the pervasive “reality” industry.
“Confetti” capitalizes on the industrywide formulas that have birthed countless cliches, and unfortunately spawned a new breed of celebrity. The film begins with a glimpse into the rarefied world of corporate America, where two executives at the wedding magazine Confetti devise their next scheme to captivate readers: a competition for the most original nuptial ceremony.
As all experienced “American Idol” watchers might surmise, the next step is the audition process: an easy, yet wasted, opportunity for laughs. The pair of judges, an uninspired businesswoman and yet another budget Simon Cowell, interview a series of hopeful fiances and assess both their fanciful wedding plans and their typecasting potential. They decide on three hackneyed couple-types: the intensely competitive jocks, Josef and Isabelle (played by Stephan Magnan and Meredith Macneill); the homegrown lovebirds, Matt and Sam (Martin Freeman and Jessica Stephenson); and the ultra-alternative nudists, Joanna and Michael (Olivia Colman and Robert Webb).
Following the grain of MTV’s “Super Sweet 16,” “Confetti” is structured around a countdown to the big day, and each new week is heralded with sparkling captions and elevator jazz music. Guided by the token gay wedding planners, a la Franch and Howard, each couple is ushered through the not-so-blissful preparations. In order to cope with the trials and tribulations of competition stress, the couples are sent to pre-marriage counselors. Just as our beloved reality TV introduces previously unfathomable professions (read: pageant coaches on “True Life: Beauty Queen”) so too does “Confetti” make its own ridiculous contribution to the jobscape.
Yet the couples are marginalized by the excessive intricacies of the wedding arrangements, resulting in drowned characters and overly elaborate plotlines: There are too many curveballs, too many eccentric relatives, too many breakdowns. Intended to ridicule the wedding-crazed, this endless drama prevents any character or couple from gaining formidable screen presence.
And worse, no character (or caricature) manages to fulfill his or her assigned ludicrousness, despite desperate plugs (e.g. a botched Pinocchio-style nose job for Isabelle). The couples’ alleged idiosyncrasies, to which their weddings are tailor-made, are never established. As a result, the elaborate ceremonies that culminate in the film’s final scenes fall flat.
Never laugh-out-loud funny, “Confetti” is occasionally comical in the absurdity of its premises. More often, though, this absurdity, which often appears in the form of overly quirky characters, drags the film from the hallowed land of wry sarcasm into the more treacherous waters of slapstick comedy. Josef, whose pathetic failure as a professional tennis player should have provided plentiful opportunity for bitter irony, instead relies on overdramatized tantrums to draw laughs. Perhaps as a result of an innate Anglo-American humor gap, much of the comedy falls flat, and lacks the caustic edge that the “Best in Show” paradigm boasts.
To its native audience, the “Confetti” cast would be a sea of familiar faces, as most of the Britons are heroes of the UK small screen: Matt, for example, stars in the beloved sitcom “The Office.” Yet to the non-Anglophile moviegoer, he is merely “that guy from ‘Love Actually,’” which might contribute to the character flatness. Still, the characters also undoubtedly suffer from mediocre improvisation, which most often manifests itself in uncoordinated timing and overambitious humor. “Confetti” simply fails to evoke the derisive chuckles, or at least smirks, with which it might have blessed its native audience (read: silent, albeit largely empty, theater). The movie begs comparison with the Christopher Guest canon, yet, unfortunately, no braces-laced Parker Posey emerges.
“Confetti” employs the authenticating cinematographic techniques of its reality TV and documentary peers. The unfocused, unsteady shots scream home video, while the poor lighting — maybe more an effect of the invariably dismal English climate — presents the characters with all their flaws. The result of this unfriendly lighting verges on grotesque, and perhaps abusive, when applied to the pale flabbiness of the nudist couple.
Equally unflattering, the film’s music is a compilation that intentionally revels in generics. Encompassing the emotional rollercoaster that is competitive marriage, the soundtrack runs the gamut from saccharine love ballads to elated ’70s love songs. Although appropriate within the movie’s context, the soundtrack is a definite no-go.
Although “Confetti” digests the mock-worthy tropes of the reality industry, absurd even in its nomenclature, its mediocre mockery fails to hit home. In its benignity, “Confetti” even provides a plausible premise for a big hit reality show — “Bridezilla,” watch out.