Streaming: Polite Society and the best “Stop the Marriage!” movies | Movies

I blame the movies for the tense, willful thrill I get at every wedding ceremony I’ve attended – when the priest or officiant opens the floor to objections, and a few seconds of awkward, semi-amused silence ensue . What a chaotic thrill it must be to speak at this time! I would never, of course, and I’ve never seen anyone else do it. But in movies, nuptials are meant to be sabotaged more often than not, and by forces more malevolent than the lukewarm British summer. The “Stop the Marriage!” the film is practically its own subgenre. The sparkling and noisy comedy of Nida Manzoor Polite company is a pleasantly unusual addition to its ranks.

The marriage targeted in Manzoor’s film is not the victim of romantic discord or envy. Instead, it’s the bride’s sister who simply thinks it’s a bad idea in every way. Martial arts-obsessed London teenager Ria (a charming Priya Kansara) looks up to her older sister, art student Lena (Ritu Arya), seeing them both as rebels against cultural and family convention. When Lena drops out of art school and gets engaged to a seemingly nice and respectable boy, Ria feels downright betrayed. Only one thing for her: to stop the marriage, in an increasingly daredevil way. It’s an anarchic but endearing quest, and a wacky wish-fulfillment for any viewer who wanted to advise a loved one against marrying a total rotter, but didn’t dare.

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman in Margot at the Wedding (2007).
“An equally equal war of sharp words”: Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman in Margot at the Wedding (2007). Shutterstock

It’s the sweetest, funkiest equivalent of Noah Baumbach’s vinegary black comedy. Margot at the wedding, in which a quietly calculating Nicole Kidman descends on her sister’s wedding weekend on Long Island like an angel of death in a salmon-pink sunhat, determined to bring her doom to everyone. With said sister played by a ferociously surly Jennifer Jason Leigh, it’s an equally matched sharp war of words, with Jack Black’s schlubby groom caught in the crossfire.

It’s the romantic comedy, of course, where marriages are marred with happiest abandon, never more happily than in George Cukor. Philadelphia History, a tiered fruitcake perfectly frosted with a prank where Katharine Hepburn’s fragile bride-to-be is so suavely harassed by her ex Cary Grant. The positively Shakespearean air of the all-well-ending-well comedy film is endlessly imitated to this day, and rarely matched.

James Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn at the altar, all looking surprised, in The Philadelphia Story
James Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story: “Infinitely imitated and seldom equaled”. Ronald Grant

The 1990s were a particularly rich time for such successors. Mike Newell and Richard Curtis are still dynamic Four weddings and a funeral turned the formula upside down by making us guess Who marriage would go awry, while PJ Hogan’s smart, surprisingly sharp The wedding of my best friend deserves more credit than it gets for toying with typical genre sympathies. Here, it’s an unusually frosty Julia Roberts who’s the ex-marauder on the guest list, and all isn’t going her way. Entrance and exit (1997) stars Kevin Kline as a groom who ruins his own party by coming out as gay – then a pretty fresh twist on the proceedings, though the heart of Frank Oz’s film seems to be with the rejected bride of Joan Cusack, slumped on the side of the road in her whipped cream dress.

More children’s films than you might think also culminate in stopping the wedding trope. It’s a matter of life and death for mute and ostracized Ariel in Disney’s original animated version of The little Mermaidthough she gets her man in the end – unlike Hans Christian Andersen’s grittier story. shrek also culminates in the simultaneous breaking of a covenant and a curse. In The princess to be married, Robin Wright’s eponymous heroine spends virtually the entire film foiling unwanted wedding plans. In the gayly manic, rather underrated Most Wanted Muppetsan impostor complicates poor Miss Piggy’s long-held dream of finally making Kermit an honest frog.

Most Wanted Muppets.
It’s time to make him an honest frog… Muppets Most Wanted. Alamy

At least none of these marriages turn out to be as bloody as the special day of the avenging bride in Quentin Tarantino. Kill Bill: 1or, indeed, the planned monster wedding in the 1930s horror classic THE Bride of Frankenstein, abruptly interrupted by the grief-stricken groom. In two very adult variations on the theme, the wedding continues, but to no avail. The polygamous businessman in the caustically brilliant satire of Ousmane Sembène Xala (Internet Archive) is stricken with erectile dysfunction before he can consummate his third marriage, and while Lars von Trier’s wedding ceremony is heartbreaking. Melancholy barely survives the vagaries of depression and sanity, he cannot endure an impending apocalypse. On the other hand, fugitive lovers of The graduationfleeing with uncertainty from a failed marriage on a bus to anywhere, have less to worry about.

All titles are available for rental on multiple platforms, unless otherwise stated.

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Joaquin Phoenix in Beau Afraid.
Joaquin Phoenix in Beau Afraid. Alamy

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