Breakup at a Wedding: Film Review

The influence, if not the comic brilliance, of Christopher Guest clearly is felt in this found-footage satire.

A couple's disastrous nuptials are captured by a wedding videographer in Victor Quinaz's mockumentary.

Watching your friends’ actual wedding videos, however painful, would be a more edifying experience than sitting through Breakup at a Wedding. This mockumentary directed by Victor Quinaz and inspired by his own stint working as a wedding videographer is badly in need of some Christopher Guest-style comic inspiration. Opening for a limited theatrical engagement at Brooklyn’s IndieScreen, the film might attract some viewers on VOD thanks to its provocative title and the fact that actor Zachary Quinto is one of its producers.

Composed entirely of footage supposedly captured on the fly and often surreptitiously by a wedding videographer played by the director, the film depicts the chaotic nuptials of Alison (Alison Fyhrie) and Phil (Philip Quinaz, the director’s brother and co-screenwriter). The main plot element is Alison’s sudden announcement to Phil during the rehearsal dinner that she can’t go through with the marriage. To avoid embarrassment, not to mention the loss of their nonrefundable deposits, they decide to go through with the ceremony anyway. It just won’t be legal because they’ll forgo signing the marriage license. The heartbroken groom secretly hopes to change her mind by delivering a lavish surprise at the last minute.   

Successful comedies have been built on sillier premises, and the mockumentary format seems particularly apt for the subject matter. But the film never achieves comic steam, floating along by depicting numerous embarrassing situations involving the bride and groom and the wedding guests, often captured on the radio microphones that they’ve forgotten they’re wearing.  

Although it runs a scant 85 minutes, the film feels much longer, all too accurately conveying the feel of sitting through an interminable catered affair. The main characters fail to elicit the necessary sympathy, and the supporting figures -- such as Phil’s pompous British boss and Alison’s Slavic stepmother whom her father met via a shady website -- rarely rise above the level of caricature.

The film realistically features the sort of slapdash production values appropriate to its found-footage style, and considering how the format has been done to death, it’s at least refreshing to encounter it in a nonhorror film. It supposedly was shot just before the real-life wedding of the director and his co-screenwriter Anna Martemucci. Presumably their nuptials proceeded in far smoother fashion.

Opens Friday, Aug. 2 (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Production: Period. Films, Before the Door Pictures

Cast: Alison Fyhrie, Phillip Quinaz, Mary Grill, Chris Manley, Michael Lidondici, Brian Shoaf

Director: Victor Quinaz

Screenwriters: Victor Quinaz, Phillip Quinaz, Anna Martemucci

Producers: Richard Brown, Neil Dodson, Steve Golin, Anna Martemucci, Corey Moosa, Victor Quinaz, Zachary Quinto

Executive producers: David Carmen, Paul Green, Chad Hamilton, T.D. Klein, Randy Manis, Scott Robinson, Fred Schaulfeld

Director of photography: Giovanni P. Autran

Editors: Giovanni P. Autran, Evan Leed, Charlie Porter

Costume designer: Sydney Maresca

Rated PG-13, 85 minutes