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Classic Movie Review: 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' Starring Hugh Grant

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a hit on the I Hate Critics 1994 Podcast.

By Sean PatrickPublished about a month ago 5 min read
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Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Directed by Mike Newell

Written by Richard Curtis

Starring Hugh Grant, Andie McDowell, John Hannah, Simon Callow, Kristen Scott Thomas

Release Date April 15th, 1994

Published April 15th, 1994

Four Weddings and a Funeral is exactly what the title says it is, four weddings and one funeral over a period of about a year in the life of a group of British friends. Charles (Hugh Grant) seems to attend a wedding a week these days. Despite his deplorable record as a ladies man, which will play out through the series of weddings that occur, Charles keeps getting invited to weddings and goes in with the hope of hooking up. He's cynical about love but secretly a romantic. We will learn this via his strange and strained relationship with Carrie (Andie McDowell).

At the first of four weddings Charles attends he's the best man. Naturally, he nearly ruins the wedding by forgetting the rings. Thankfully, his friends, Tom (James Fleet), Gareth (Simon Callow), Matthew (John Hannah), and Fiona (Kristen Scott Thomas), along with Charles' sister, Scarlett (Charlotte Coleman), are able to bail him out. Narrowly avoiding that disaster, Charles stumbles into a potential non-disaster when he meets Carrie. For Charles, it's love at first sight. For Carrie, she seems to like the floppy Englishman but it takes a minute for her to warm to him. The two end up sleeping together, after some shenanigans, but then she's off, back to America.

Cut to wedding number 2. Charles is just a guest this time and instead of nearly ruining the wedding, the universe appears to be ruining Charles' day. Not only were he and Scarlett nearly late to the wedding, they always are, he ends up at the reception sat at a table with not one, not two, but three of his ex-girlfriends. Each takes the time to tell a story about Charles, ones in which he appears to insult one of the other two exes. It's a catastrophe but one that he hope might be mitigated when he sees that Carrie has come to this wedding as well. This too however, is a disaster as Carrie is here with her new fiancée. This doesn't stop Charles and Carrie from hooking up but it's certainly not a good indication of long term plans.

This is confirmed when Carrie invites Charles and his friends to her wedding, in Scotland. In the only sequence of Four Weddings and a Funeral that is not related to the titular events, Charles encounters Carrie while shopping for her wedding gift. He proceeds to confess his love for her and she smiles and accepts his declaration but leaves without reciprocating his feelings. At the wedding, she makes a vague reference to Charles that is heartbreaking but the wedding blues for Charles are overshadowed when one of his friends suffers a heart attack and dies during the reception, leading to the funeral of the title.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a acid tongued romantic comedy filled with brilliant English wit and the comedy of manners. The script by Richard Curtis is whip-smart with comic dialogue that crackles with good jokes and trenchant observations of these characters, especially Charles. Charles is the only character in the film who is fully in focus. We get glimpses of his friend group, Gareth and Matthew are a couple, Fiona has an unrequited crush on Charles, Tom is super-rich and oblivious, but Charles is the one we get to know and follow throughout.

As for Carrie, she too is mostly out of focus. Carrie has an odd sense of humor, she doesn't tell jokes well. She's a little mean, inviting a man who confesses to love her to come to her wedding to another man. And she's played by Andie MacDowell as a bit of a flake and little else. I don't blame MacDowell for this lack of depth. Rather, the screenplay seems to treat Carrie as a function of the story that is being told about Charles. This is a story of selfishness and narcissism but also a story about growing up and becoming a fully developed person. Charles has a lot of growing up to do and the movie measures his growth via his romantic attachments.

By the end, Charles has been through enough and done enough to have come to understand what he truly wants. He needed to go through these trials by fire at these weddings, he needed to explore the gutting loss of a friend, and he needed to fall in love with Carrie to fully realize who he is and what he wants out of life. He still has a lot to learn by the time the credits roll, but, at the very least, he knows what love is for him. He's fully prepared to commit himself to one person for the rest of his life and that's far more than he was capable of when we first met him.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is about Charles and his personal romantic journey but it's also a film about moments. Some great ones include Fiona's witty conversation with an elderly woman at the first wedding. Another is the heartbreaking moment when one of our friends delivers a eulogy that is a mixture of poetry, music and a deep abiding love. The delivery of this speech is so lovely, so heartbreaking, I'm tearing up a little just thinking about it. It's a moment of grace that the movie needed in just that moment. It's a pivotal moment for Charles as is the funny/sad conversation he has with Tom in the immediate aftermath of the funeral.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is the subject of the latest edition of the I Hate Critics 1994 Podcast and it's the first truly good movie of 1994, in terms of what we've watched for the podcast, 1994 is a dumpster fire for movies. You can hear myself, my co-host Amy, and our Gen Z co-host M.J talking about Four Weddings and a Funeral on the show by subscribing to the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts. We're having a great time chatting about the movies of 1994, even as most of them have been miserable. At least we have Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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