A slickly mounted Gotham comedy about two gays who try to hoodwink the Chinese partner’s parents with a phony marriage, The Wed ding Banquet slides down easily even if it doesn’t leave much aftertaste. The Taiwan-funded pic is a shallower work than helmer Ang Lee’s first feature, Pushing Hands.
Central couple are Wai-tung (Winston Chao), a Taiwanese with a comfy lifestyle in Manhattan from real estate investments, and his white US lover Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein). To fend off his overseas mom’s nagging to get married, Wai-tung agrees to a green-card deal with one of his tenants, ambitious but broke Wei-wei (May Chin), an illegal immigrant from Shanghai.
The proverbial hits the fan when Wai-tung’s parents suddenly fly over from Taiwan to attend the marriage. A planned quickie at City Hall becomes a full-blown wedding banquet to satisfy mom and dad’s expectations.
Most of this is smoothly done and scripted with plenty of incident, especially in the setpiece of the enormous wedding banquet (complete with Chinese rituals). Where the movie is less satisfying is in giving the characters enough depth for the climax to pay emotional dividends.
Chin, a popular singer/TV thesp in her native Taiwan, adds color and shape to an initially unsympathetic role. Newcomer Chao, a former model and flight attendant, is okay as the pig-in-the-middle.