Entertainment

Netflix's 'Love Wedding Repeat' Is a Sweet Rom-Com with a Baffling Twist

love wedding repeat
Netflix

The latest rom com hitting Netflix is an intermittently charming wedding farce until the inexplicable twist that hits about 40 minute before the ending. (Spoilers, obviously, follow.) Love Wedding Repeat is not as confusing as it is purely lazy, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its small pleasures. With a better script that actually took the time to tell its audience why it's leaning into the cosmic and supernatural, Love Wedding Repeat could have been a real delight. Instead, it's just a little perplexing.

At its outset, the movie, written and directed by Dean Craig, has a pretty par-for-the-course premise. Sam Claflin plays Jack, a handsome British stammerer in the vein of a thousand Hugh Grant heroes, who missed out on his one chance with his sister's gorgeous war correspondent friend, Dina (Olivia Munn). Now, said sister Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) is getting married and everyone's invited. Dina, Jack's hot mean ex (Freida Pinto), her insecure new boyfriend (Allan Mustafa), their gossipy friend (Aisling Bea), their goofy friend (Joel Fry), and their boring friend (Tim Key). It's hectic as weddings tend to be, but gets more so when Hayley's ex Marc (Jack Farthing) shows up, coked out of his mind, and threatens to ruin everything. Hayley orders Jack to douse Marc's drink with sleeping medicine to knock him out, but some kids switch around the place settings and someone else gets the laced glass of champagne. Chaos ensues. 

So that's the "love" and the "wedding" of the title, but where does the "repeat" come in? Despite marketing that would imply there's a Groundhog Day-esque element to the plot, it's not quite as elaborate as that. Instead, Craig just lets one scenario play out with a disappointing conclusion, and then offers an alternate ending. To justify this, there's a voiceover from a character known only as "The Oracle," who spouts platitudes about fate. This all-knowing being explains that when those mischievous children mixed up the seating arrangement randomly, there were myriad configurations that could have occurred. The majority of the movie documents what happens during one of those mix ups. But for the last part, it shifts to another potential outcome.

love wedding repeat
Netflix

The point Craig is ostensibly trying to make is about the randomness of the universe, but the concept just feels a little under-baked. It is almost as if a bunch of other scenarios got excised somewhere between writing and post-production. The in-movie rewrite sucks all the energy out of the plot, and veers into straight up sap to give all the characters an ideal ending. 

But even though the big hook of Love Wedding Repeat makes very little sense, it's still a little over 90 minutes of cute distraction. Claflin is probably best known for his role as Finnick in the Hunger Games movies, but here he proves an adept adorable, bumbling British romantic lead in the tradition of so many before him. You can't believe he's as unlucky in love as he says he is, because he's so darn cute. (And he has range. If you want to see him be absolutely terrifying, watch last year's The Nightingale, streaming on Hulu.) Claflin and Munn have a nice rapport, but it's stand-up Bea who does most of the scene stealing as the pal who just keeps saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. 

Love Wedding Repeat desperately wants to be Four Weddings and a Funeral, mirroring Richard Curtis' classic in its wacky cast of characters, random mysterious American love interest, and, well, repetitive structure. And if you've already watched that '90s gem a million times, this may placate you for the time being, even with its strange structural defects. 

Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.