Saturday, July 27, 2013

Say hello to the hybrid mockumentary: Victor Quinaz's BREAKUP AT A WEDDING

We've seen documentaries, we've seen mockumentaries, we've seen hybrid documentaries, and now it's time, I guess, to welcome the hybrid mock-umentary BREAKUP AT A WEDDING, the new whatzit from filmmaker Victor Quinaz. Just what is a hybrid mockumentary? Damned if I know, but this movie just seems a bit different from your Christopher Guest model, or last week's overblown version, Colossus, or any other kind of "mock" I can easily recall. Blatantly a fiction film, it still appears to be a documentary posing as as reality while clearly being unable to reach that precious plateau -- even as a fake "reality" movie.

Mr. Quinaz, shown at right -- who acts as director, co-writer, one of the film's producers and even has an acting role in the movie -- is handing us the notion that he's been hired to capture a couple's wedding on video (by now we know this routine very well, though the film that does it best, oddly enough, is the terrifically frisky, funny zombie movie [REC] 3), even though the twosome has decided (due to the bride, not the groom, who is nicely played by the filmmaker's brother, Philip Quinaz, below, left) that it is not actually getting married but will instead "fake it" for the relatives and guests.

How they do this and what ensues makes up most of the movie, which is relatively funny and sometimes charming but more often proves just a little bit off both base and key.

If you notice the photos above and below (this isn't fair, of course, but they are all I've found to use), you may detect a bit of a strained quality in the expressions on hand (particularly that of the bride, played by Alison Fyhrie, above and below). There's a sense here of trying too hard, and it seems to infect everything from writing to direction to performance.

Sometimes things come off well enough, at least, to allow us to sit back and enjoy. But more often that "pushing" sense occurs and we tighten up in expectation of, well, too much. This is not the best way, I think, to enjoy a comedy. But here, we must take to so-so with the good.

Comedy itself is one of the more difficult genres to get anything approaching agreement from audiences. One man's laugh is another man's lack of. I suspect there will be enough of the former to make this movie at least an OK experience. The "wedding" takes place on one of those multi-venue propositions at which several couples can marry at the same time on their own turf. My favorite section had to do with how to steal your liquor from an adjoining festivity (and if that festivity offers a "Star Wars" theme, all the better).

Breakup at a Wedding, from Oscilloscope Films and running, even at only 85 minutes, a bit too long, opens this coming Friday, August 2, at Brooklyn's IndieScreen theater, with one of the most famous of its producers -- Zachary Quinto -- appearing at select screenings for Q&As. The film was also released onto VOD and digital channels earlier this summer (and may still be playing there, if you're couch potato-inclined).

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