A comedy of errors set during one long stag night, “The Wedding Tackle” is a cut above many other British low-budgeters of its ilk, with a good cast managing to rise above an average script and lackluster direction. Overall, however, pic is a modest item, demanding fast local playoff before disappearing onto half-inch.
Shaky opening, as the main characters are separately intro’ed, has difficulty establishing a rhythm or comic tone, but as the stag night begins (in which the lads are soon joined by the gals) things start to improve, with a final half-hour in which the offhand comedy gels.
Plot spins on the cold feet that Hal (James Purefoy), a philandering photographer, has suddenly developed over his forthcoming marriage to Vinni (Susan Vidler). Both he and a friend, cartoonist Little Ted (Tony Slattery), cook up a ruse in which another buddy, crippled swimming coach Mr. Mac (Adrian Dunbar), seduces Vinni, thereby allowing Hal to break off the nuptials.
Little Ted, however, still harbors dreams of getting back with Vinni, who gave him the heave-ho a while ago, and persuades Mr. Mac’s g.f., barmaid Petula (Amanda Redman), to seduce Hal for some incriminating Polaroids. If that isn’t enough, Petula is being followed by her suspicious husband (Leslie Grantham); Vinni’s forthright best friend, Cloudah (Victoria Smurfit), bedded Hal only two days ago; and Vinni herself turns out to have equally cold feet about the wedding.
As the stag night trails from bar to bar, further wrinkles are added to the confusion as everyone’s plans go awry. It’s here that the playing, by a largely experienced cast mostly drawn from TV, comes into its own, with characters gaining some depth rather than having to rely on Nigel Horne’s not endemically very funny script for effect.
Purefoy grows into an initially underwritten role, and both Vidler and the more veteran Dunbar also develop late on. Writer-comedian Slattery and, in a delightfully loopy role as another of Hal’s circle, Neil Stuke, add flavor; but it’s Smurfit who, not for the first time in a low-profile Britpic, often outclasses her colleagues in an eye-catching perf as the tempestuous Cloudah.
Tech credits are just OK, with variable lensing by Shelley Hirst. British pop classics from the ’60s give the pic’s first half some badly needed bounce. Film’s title plays on the double meaning of “tackle,” which is also English slang for male sexual equipment.