Our Family Wedding
Lucia Ramirez is more than happy about being the fiancée of Marcus Boyd. But she's terrified to tell her dad about him.
She's also more than happy about her decision to drop out of law school and volunteer her time as a teacher in a Los Angeles school for immigrants. But, you guessed it, she's terrified to tell her dad.
Our Family Wedding, of course, forces her to fess up, and the resulting comedic chaos is exactly the stuff that romantic comedies are so often made of: equal parts silliness, foulness and heart-to-heart seriousness. Most of the silliness comes from the idea that because Lucia's family is Mexican and Marcus' is African-American, nobody's going to get along with anybody. Most of the foulness comes from sexual situations … and a goat. Most of the seriousness comes from generations learning to settle their differences and one man (Marcus' father) retracting everything bad he's ever said about marriage.
But before everybody can get to that last bit, there's a whole lotta fighting, bickering and meddling to be done. And there's a wedding to plan too—but when it comes to these families, that's all one and the same.
Lucia's parents, Miguel and Sonia, love her and have strived and sacrificed to do what they think is best for her. When Miguel is deeply hurt by his daughter's choices, he assures her that he'll always love her, and that even when he's mad at her, he still loves her. Sonia is just as supportive.
When Miguel takes offense at Marcus' not formally asking for his daughter's hand, Marcus (eventually) does so in a very ceremonial way, finally recognizing the importance of the tradition.
And when Sonia overhears Lucia and her other daughter, Izzy, mocking her, saying she's lost her vim and vigor for life along with her love for Miguel, she moves from being hurt and angry toward doing something about it pretty quickly. She approaches Miguel, sharing her feelings with him, and—after a few blunders—the pair reconnects and reignites their sputtering flame.
Speaking of flames, Lucia and Marcus have to adjust theirs a bit, too. Lucia doesn't know quite yet how to stand up to her father in defense of her husband-to-be, letting her dad think less of Marcus than he should when she withholds certain bits of information. Cut to the quick, Marcus begs her to show her father that Marcus is the man who is her everything now—and Lucia begins to learn the ropes of transferring her allegiances.
This is part of why the couple gets cold feet for a while. The other reason revolves around their respective families' squabbling over the wedding—and the quantity of negative opinions they hear about marriage. But as they work through their situational and personal differences, they find that their relationship is strengthened. And marriage is ultimately celebrated and revered.
Here's where Marcus' father, Brad, comes into play in a big way: He's been the most vocal about marriage being more problem than its worth. But when he finally comes to his senses, he recognizes and apologizes to Marcus for his negativity toward the young man's mother (Brad's ex) and toward matrimony in general.
At daggers' points for most of the film, Miguel and Brad come to appreciate each other, and all the cutting remarks they've made become water under an interracial bridge. So when Izzy brings home an Asian boyfriend, Miguel is much better prepared to accept him with open arms.
Marcus and Lucia are both charity- and volunteer-minded, and they're willing to risk financial stability to try to help others.
Marcus says he's "technically Baptist" but doesn't attend church or believe in organized religion. He nods vaguely when prompted to say he believes in God. This prompts Grandma Ramirez to call him a heathen in Spanish.
During the wedding, a huge crucifix is used as decoration, and a priest presides over the ceremony in which Catholic vows and prayers are said.
Integral to the story is the question of whether or not Lucia and Marcus are living together and having sex. Lucia leads her family to believe they aren't. But we already know she's lying. And she eventually admits it too—without changing her mind about it. (We see her and Marcus making out on a couch.)
Brad hooks up with several women who are both strangers and young enough to be his daughters. We see him grinning to himself in bed as his latest conquest brushes her teeth. And we see another woman wearing only his shirt the morning after. His onscreen "conflict" revolves around him falling in love with a longtime friend but wanting to continue his one-night-stand ways.
Sonia initiates what she hopes will be a romp with Miguel in their convertible. They end up falling out of the car and onto the ground where Izzy sees them and wrinkles up her nose in disgust. They talk about the good times they had when they were young, driving around and "parking."
A central gag revolves around a box of condoms and a bottle of Viagra in Brad's bathroom. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that Miguel ends up ingesting some of the drug and has to hide behind a pillow for a while. Later, a goat gets loose in the house and eats quite a few of the pills. Crazed, the creature "attacks" Brad.
One of Marcus' friends tells him that at his age he should be lining women up and knocking 'em down like bowling pins. He firmly believes that one-night stands are far more exciting than tame marital sex. It's said that he pays for sex sometimes.
Women wear low-cut shirts and dresses with high hemlines. Sex toys and the sexual prowess of black men are joke topics. Cocktails named after an erogenous-zone body part are ordered and downed. Dancing gets suggestive in a couple of scenes, and Grandma Ramirez gropes a younger man's bottom. In a dream sequence, a woman crudely accuses her husband of committing adultery.
As part of that same sequence, she breaks a champagne flute and threatens her husband with it, then throttles him. A thug curses at and threatens a little boy. Brad relishes the idea—displayed visually—of his ex getting hit by a bus. (We don't see the impact.)
In real life, Miguel gets into a bar brawl and, later, purposely hits Marcus with a softball pitch—triggering an on-field donnybrook. Women shove and fight after the wedding cake is destroyed. Rowdy kids break glassware, as does a construction crew that comes to Brad's pad to set up for the wedding. The goat runs amok, generally wreaking havoc throughout the house and yard.
Crude or Profane Language
Two s-words and one f-word; the latter is yelled at a child. Jesus' name is abused once, God's a half-dozen times or more. There are one or two uses each of "p‑‑‑," "a‑‑" and "h‑‑‑."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Alcohol is served pretty much everywhere and for every occasion, from meals to nightclubs to a wedding boutique. It's also consumed for pretty much every reason: to relieve boredom, to relax or to try to forget problems. At a bar, Miguel says he deserves to party because he hasn't been clubbing since he was married 25 years earlier. Many, many, many cocktails later, he and Brad both end up in jail for disorderly conduct and drunkenness. At the wedding, champagne and beer are staples.
Other Negative Elements
Miguel's and Brad's petty jealousies, insecurities, spite and short tempers are mostly presented as comedy. Included in their "banter" are racial stereotypes and demeaning retorts.
Brad comes around a bit, as we've noted, but he wholeheartedly values what he calls "unorthodox" fatherhood for most of the movie, and so he balks at giving Marcus parental advice even when the young man asks for it. He compares older single women to war veterans, saying they're "twisted and bitter."
Lucia lies about several situations, including her whereabouts. Brad and Angela practically destroy a cake decorating shop when they playfully start a wedding cake fight. Miguel's police record shows that there's an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Why? Because at 19 he got drunk and high and naked in public.
One of Marcus' friends says that married men are all whipped by wives who never trust them. Izzy thinks it would be terrible if Lucia wasted her life by getting pregnant before she's 30.
Our Family Wedding is mostly an eye-roller, filled with Viagra jokes, runaway goats, racial stereotypes and flimsily manufactured conflict. But it also highlights the value of family unity and honest communication, the resolution of old grievances, owning up to bad behavior and extending an apology when actions call for it.
They might be getting a bit tipsy by film's end as the ceremony and reception drag on and on, but the Ramirezes and Boyds have managed to form a new, perhaps stronger family despite the ridiculous rivalries, outlandish idiocy and crude comments. Each member comes to a greater understanding of others and what it means to love.
Hollywood moviemakers need to finally realize that they really can entertain and flirt with family values without sexing, boozing and slurring things up for the sake of cheap laughs, ratings and publicity. And can somebody please start a petition to ban any and all sexualizing of farm animal from films?
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Forest Whitaker as Brad Boyd; America Ferrera as Lucia Ramirez; Carlos Mencia as Miguel Ramirez; Regina King as Angela; Lance Gross as Marcus Boyd; Diana-Maria Riva as Sonia Ramirez
March 12, 2010
July 13, 2010
Meredith WhitmoreSteven Isaac