Wedding Bell Blues

On the heels of "Grace of My Heart," Illeana Douglas delivers the goods in "Wedding Bell Blues," a personable comedy which will generate some attention outside the festival circuit due to her tart portrayal of a tough, promiscuous woman rebelling against her traditional family.

On the heels of “Grace of My Heart,” Illeana Douglas delivers the goods in “Wedding Bell Blues,” a personable comedy which will generate some attention outside the festival circuit due to her tart portrayal of a tough, promiscuous woman rebelling against her traditional family. A highly accessible look at love , sex and marriage, this indie could ring up some theatrical action if it connects with its target audience of young female viewers.

Director Dana Lustig and scripter Annette Goliti Gutierrez have come up with a good-humored original story about three women trying to cope with the twin dilemmas of turning 30 and being single, and play it out in the midst of a colorful Vegas backdrop of gaudy casinos, fast-food-style chapels and Elvis impersonators.

But the pic has its problems, starting with model Paulina Porizkova, who looks gorgeous but fails to show much dramatic range. Also, the story lags in a big way in the final section, when the three women return from their wacky visit to Las Vegas, and the happy ending is a bit too predictable.

Jasmine (Douglas), Tanya (Porizkova) and Micki (Julie Warner), roommates and close friends, are all in major-crisis mode. Pregnant Tanya learns that the father of the child (Richard Edson) has no intention of marrying her. Micki is equally distraught when her fiance drops by to tell her that he is nixing their wedding plans because she is not passionate enough for him.

Jasmine, by contrast, insists that she isn’t into marriage and is happy to maintain fairly casual relationships with a bunch of different guys. It’s an approach to life that doesn’t sit well with Jasmine’s conservative parents and, at her little sister’s wedding, she has to listen to endless lectures from her relatives about her marital status.

Sitting around the apartment moping about their stressed-out lives, the three women decide to trek to Las Vegas to snare potential husbands, marry them, and then immediately file for divorces. The rather implausible premise is that this stunt will get their families off their backs.

So they load up Jasmine’s vintage convertible and hit the road. No sooner does Micki meet a cowboy than they win a stash of money, she asks him to get married and they tie the knot at a nearby chapel, in a ceremony that includes a rendition of “Crying in the Chapel” by an Elvis look-alike.

Tanya also arranges to get hitched, while Jasmine hooks up with an engineer. One of the funnier moments is a sex scene in which Micki, who has confessed she’s never had an orgasm, gets it on with her new cowboy beau in the stables surrounded by snorting horses. After their whirlwind tour of Vegas, the women head back home and each of them eventually sorts out her confused personal life.

Lustig and Gutierrez have constructed a reasonably entertaining comedy with no shortage of yuks, though the film doesn’t contain any particularly revealing new insights into the female psyche. Douglas is the most captivating of the lead thesps, making Jasmine the most believable and intriguing of the three roommates. Warner is good as Micki, while Porizkova never manages to breathe life into her portrayal of a woman cursed with drop-dead looks.

Tech credits are fine, with lenser Kent Wakeford making much of the standard Las Vegas shots of the flashy casino marquees. Soundtrack features a slew of upbeat rock tracks, many belted out by femme vocalists.

Wedding Bell Blues

  • Production: A Bergman Lustig production. (International sales: Curb Entertainment, Los Angeles.) Produced by Mike Curb, Carole Curb Nemoy, Ram Bergman, Dana Lustig. Directed by Dana Lustig. Screenplay, Annette Goliti Gutierrez, based on a story by Lustig and Gutierrez.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Kent Wakeford; editor, Caroline Ross; music, Paul Christian Gordon, Tal Bergman; production design, Shay Austin; costumes, Dana Allyson; line producer, Jordan Leibert; associate producers, Jeff Franks, Paul Feddersen. Reviewed at Hamptons Film Festival, Oct. 18, 1996. Running time: 100 MIN.
  • With: Jasmine - Illeana Douglas Tanya - Paulina Porizkova Micki - Julie Warner Cary - John Corbett Matt - Jonathan Penner Oliver - Charles Martin Smith Tom - Richard Edson Debbie Reynolds - Debbie Reynolds <B>Also with:</B> Joseph Urla, Stephanie Beacham, Carla Gugino, Leo Rossi, John Capodice, Liz Sheridan, Stephen Gilborn, Jeff Seymour, Victoria Jackson.
  • Music By: