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Confetti

"Three Weddings and No Funeral" just as easily describes "Confetti," an agreeable Britcom about three couples competing in a magazine-sponsored contest for the Most Original Wedding of the Year. Opening wide in Blighty May 5, with heavy promo, pic should marry well with girlie viewers of both sexes.

With:
With:Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Vincent Franklin, Jason Watkins, Jimmy Carr, Felicity Montagu, Alison Steadman, Mark Wootton, Sarah Hadland, Ron Cook.

“Three Weddings and No Funeral” just as easily describes “Confetti,” an agreeable Britcom about three couples competing in a magazine-sponsored contest for the Most Original Wedding of the Year. Devised (via improvisation) by sophomore helmer Debbie Isitt (“Nasty Neighbours”), pic is reminiscent less of Richard Curtis’ romcoms and more of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, with a dash of early Mike Leigh. However, it’s not as outright funny as any movies of the above helmers at their best. Pic earned $1.2 million in its opening weekend, good for second at the U.K. box office behind “Mission: Impossible III.”

Slick, mass-market matrimonial mag Confetti chooses three couples as finalists in its Most Original Wedding competition.

Suburban sweethearts Matt (Martin Freeman, from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) and Sam (Jessica Stevenson, from cult sitcom “Spaced”) want to have all-singing, all-dancing nuptials.

Highly competitive yuppies Josef and his Canadian fiancee Isabelle (Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, both from “Festival”) choose a tennis theme.

Finally, nudists Michael (standup comedian Robert Webb) and Joanna (Olivia Colman) have their hearts set on a clothes-free ceremony — a decision the mag’s double-barreled bitch of an editor, Vivien Kay-Wylie (Felicity Montagu), is determined to tone down. “Naturist doesn’t mean naked,” she insists.

To help each couple get ready — and keep them on message with Confetti’s image — the mag hires camp-as-Christmas wedding planners Archie Heron and Gregory Hough (Vincent Franklin, Jason Watkins). Their sweet, loving relationship will endear pic to metro-sexual viewers.

As the big day approaches, all start to crack under the strain. Matt — who’s a variant on the “decent bloke” type Freeman played in U.K. sitcom “The Office” — rebels against the meddling of his future mother-in-law (onetime Mike Leigh regular Alison Steadman) and sister-in-law (Sarah Hadland). Meanwhile, Sam contends with the open antipathy of Matt’s best man, Snoopy (Mark Wootton).

It’s in this strand’s straight, joke-free scenes that “Confetti” finds its surest footing, providing emotionally believable ballast against the somewhat contrived set-up and borderline caricatures elsewhere.

Per pic’s press notes, filmers shot three different endings, only in postproduction choosing the couple which wins. However, some viewers may feel the “A Mighty Wind”-style matrimonial climax entirely lacks surprises.

Cast reps fine individual talents with crack timing and, in the case of Freeman and Stevenson particularly, enough dramatic chops to put over the serious stuff. But compared with the tightly-knit ensemble in Guest’s pic, individual members of the “Confetti” team seem to have slightly differing comic agendas. As a result, the decision of Isitt, who comes from a legit background, to let the thesps drive the script creates a somewhat ragged result.

Nimble cutting by editor Nicky Ager helps to smooth things down, but there’s too much reliance on a stream of pop hits to add punch to the movie’s lulls, including that old standby, John Paul Young’s “Love Is in the Air.” HD lensing by Dewald Aukema is efficient.

Confetti

U.K.-U.S.

Production: A 20th Century Fox Intl. (in U.K.)/Fox Searchlight (in U.S.) release of a BBC Films, Fox Searchlight Pictures presentation of a Wasted Talent production, in association with Screen West Midlands. Produced by Ian Flooks, Ian Benson. Executive producers, David M. Thompson, Lee Thomas, Andrew Taylor, Oliver Edwards, Joe Oppenheimer. Directed, conceived by Debbie Isitt.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Dewald Aukema; editor, Nicky Ager; music, Paul Englishby; production designer, Chris Roope; art director, Freddy Evard; costume designer, Deirdre Clancy; sound (Dolby), Glen Marullo. Reviewed at Century preview theater, London, March 24, 2006. Running time: 100 MIN.

Cast: With:Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Vincent Franklin, Jason Watkins, Jimmy Carr, Felicity Montagu, Alison Steadman, Mark Wootton, Sarah Hadland, Ron Cook.

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