TV Review: 'Wedding Wars' delivers a gay time
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A&E's "Wedding Wars" (9 tonight) wants to be both a light comedy and a more serious meditation on gay rights. Against all odds, this mishmash of stark contrasts emerges as a surprisingly engaging film.Pief Weyman
Eric Dane, left, and John Stamos play brothers in "Wedding Wars."
Click photo for larger image.
When: 9 tonight, A&E.
Starring: John Stamos, Eric Dane.
But it begins less than promisingly when the Maine governor's speech writer proposes to and then makes out with the governor's daughter (Bonnie Somerville) while on a dais at one of the governor's appearances. With that kiss, which would never happen in the carefully scripted real political world, the film leaves the bounds of reality in the dust.
Eric Dane stars as Ben, the governor's speechwriter, and John Stamos plays his brother, Shel, a gay event planner who's hired to handle wedding arrangements. But once the governor (James Brolin as a more believable politico than the straw Republican he played on "The West Wing") comes out against gay marriage, Shel begins picketing in front of the governor's mansion. Initially, Shel's petulance comes off like a child holding his breath until he gets his way.
In just one of many instances of wanting to have it both ways -- the film seeks to deflate stereotypes while reinforcing them -- Shel says, "I'm exercising my right to free speech and my calves, which is perfect, by the way, because today was leg day at the gym."
No one takes notice of Shel's protests until an unctuous news reporter interviews Shel and snidely suggests, "If all the world's florists, hairstylists and choreographers were to go on strike, could we survive?"
And so the gays do go on strike, Shel becomes a media sensation, and the wedding begins to fall apart. Shel's own relationship with his assistant district attorney boyfriend, Ted (Sean Maher, "Firefly"), also takes a hit.
"One of the benefits of being gay was I'd never have to spend one instant of my life thinking about getting married ... until now," Ted says.
It's an interesting perspective and not one that you'd expect from a movie that's so often a lark.
These little moments do work as believable drama, including Shel's coming out to his parents, who aren't enthusiastic but aren't hateful either, expressing shame and disappointment. But they make no attempts to disown Shel.
"Was it because I made you watch ice skating with me?" Mom asks.
"I'm just gay, the way some people are just smart or tall," Shel says.
"Or just Lutheran?" Mom adds
"Actually, I was born gay, where people choose to be Lutheran," Shel explains.
Dad disagrees: "You were born Lutheran, it says so right on your birth certificate, and it doesn't say gay, I can promise you that."
"Wedding Wars" is ultimately more a tale of two brothers than a crusade for gay rights, as Shel's strike evaporates in the name of family unity. But it doesn't disappear before "Wedding Wars" gets in an obvious dig at soon-to-be former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum by paying homage to one of his more infamous interviews. The governor's opponent is seen in a TV commercial suggesting that if gay marriage is allowed, "What's next? Polygamy? Incest? A man marrying his dog?"
First Published December 11, 2006 12:00 am