Despite Natural Chemistry, Keanu and Winona Fail to Charm in ‘Destination Wedding’
At one point in what may be the most un-festive comedy ever to revolve around a wedding, Keanu Reeves, playing the groom’s brother, has this to say says about his fellow humans: “We’re all tired, trite, trivial, tiresome, tone-deaf narcissists.” A fair description of the company you’ll be keeping at Destination Wedding.
Writer-director Victor Levin (5 to 7) only gives us two characters in this one-act play disguised as a movie. There’s Reeves as Frank, the walking definition of a mopey misanthrope. And Winona Ryder as Lindsay, who also thinks life sucks. He’s a corporate suit; her job is to investigate insensitivities in the workplace — a premise the movie does absolutely nothing to develop. The two strangers meet on a charter plane to San Luis Obispo, where it’s hate at first sight. Frank’s estranged brother will marry a Danish woman we only observe from a distance. Lindsay was once engaged to the groom and, to hear her tell it, she hasn’t had a relationship since the two broke up six years ago. Frank hates the whole idea of marriage and everyone attending the wedding, including his parents. Again, seen at a distance.
Frank levels both barrels of his disdain at Lindsay, who chatters nonstop about how much he annoys her. Isolated together over a weekend of wedding events — who else would want to hang with them? — Frank and Lindsay don’t connect so much as declare a temporary truce. Frank states that he’s “missed every possible sexual revolution, including Tindr.” And Lindsay sighs and asks, “Why do we live, Frank?’
Certainly not to entertain an audience. Reeves and Ryder are natural charmers, challenged here to bury any trace of their star shine. Mission accomplished. Even when Frank and Lindsay engage in sex outdoors, they erase any trace of the erotic from the situation by analyzing each awkward move the other makes with forensic intensity. Later, in bed, Frank allows that Lindsay is reasonably attractive for her species. And Lindsay doles out a few words about his full head of hair and straight penis (curved has been more the norm in her experience).
Destination Wedding is the fourth film that Reeves (so good as John Wick) and Ryder (riding high on her second season of Stranger Things) have made together, following Bram Stoker’s Dracula, A Scanner Darkly and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. They were probably thinking that Levin, an Emmy nominee as a writer on Mad Men, was trying something different that would break from typical romcom swill. Props to Levin and his stars for their ambition. Sadly, what’s on screen is still a repellent mess. Though the film holds out a glimmer of hope for two broken people who just might be made for each other, it’s too little, too late. Frank laughs at the notion that there’s somebody for everybody, thinking it’s more likely that there’s “nobody for anyone.” There’s a simple reason why it’s hard to imagine why anyone, much less everybody, would willingly spend time with Frank and Lindsay in this agonizing endurance test of a movie. They’re no damn fun.