(2016, 92 min)
Country: U. S.
Director: Joshua Tunick
Studio: Breaking Glass Pictures
Do You Take This Man follows an intimate group of friends and family as they gather at the home of two gay men (Anthony Rapp and Jonathan Bennett) to celebrate their nuptials. When the wedding hits a snag, this group helps the grooms to see that all marriages have their challenges, and love is just the beginning.
A strong ensemble cast, including Anthony Rapp from 'Rent,' populates this dramedy.
As same-sex marriage moves closer to the mainstream, itís not surprising to see a gay variation on the familiar rom-com about a couple who experience jitters as they approach their wedding day. Attractive actors populate Do You Take This Man, which had its world premiere at Outfest over the weekend. But a wan script lets them down. Itís hard to imagine much of an audience for this movie beyond the gay festival circuit.
Daniel (Anthony Rapp) is the older and more controlling of the partners. Christopher (Jonathan Bennett) looks like a boy toy, but he proves to be more strong willed than first appearances suggest. The action takes place over the course of a single day, as Daniel organizes a rehearsal dinner for their closest friends and family. Two of Christopherís friends have a surprise in store as their wedding present: they have tracked down a woman who was Christopherís closest companion while they were growing up. They were out of touch for years, but Christopher is thrilled to be reunited with her, while Daniel is miffed that he never knew of her existence.
If that sounds like a flimsy premise to build a movie around, it is just the first of the filmís miscalculations. Daniel seems overly agitated that an extra guest will throw his dinner party into a state of disarray. On his side, Christopher feels slightly threatened by the presence of Danielís closest friend, Jacob (Mackenzie Astin), who might have had a more intimate history with Daniel than anyone is admitting. These minor crises are then exacerbated by the arrival of Danielís loving but intrusive parents and his emotionally wounded sister. To make matters worse, the woman who was supposed to perform their wedding ceremony is called out of town.
There are plenty of crises here, but none of them seems nearly as momentous to the audience as to the characters. Some of these problems are played for laughs, but the humor isnít nearly uproarious enough. And the drama goes missing. For example, Daniel admitted to having a few dates with Jacob in the past but now confesses that there might have been a few more than he had acknowledged. Is that a very convincing basis for an explosive argument on the eve of the wedding? It doesnít work in the writing or the playing.
The flatness in Joshua Tunickís script is not helped by his lethargic direction. Much of the film consists of dialogue scenes between two characters. The mechanical editing goes back and forth from close-up to close-up like a monotonous metronome. The filmís low budget does not really justify the unimaginative framing and editing.
Audience members may also feel some discomfort regarding the lavish lifestyle of the two boyfriends. We are told that Daniel made quite a fortune, though we donít learn much about his actual occupation. At a time of growing economic inequality, itís hard to work up a lot of sympathy for the minor crises facing this pampered, privileged duo.
Given the many failings of the film, the cast helps to make the weak drama more watchable than it has any right to be. A couple of decades after starring on Broadway in Rent, Rapp still has a strong presence. Bennett is photogenic, though his acting is somewhat less accomplished. Veterans Lee Garlington and Sam Anderson bring both humor and warmth to their portrayals of Danielís nosy parents, and Alyson Hannigan from American Pie and How I Met Your Mother scores in the role of Danielís wounded but wise sister. Still, these seasoned pros can only do so much to animate the earnest, antiseptic script.
-- Review by Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com)