STUDIO: Sony Pictures Television
MSRP: $19.99
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
• Gays On Strike: The Truth Behind Wedding Wars

The Pitch

The Wedding Planner meets Speechless.

The Humans

John Stamos, Eric Dane, James Brolin, Bonnie Somerville, Sean Maher.

The Nutshell

Room for two grooms?

The Lowdown

Gay marriage is a very contentious issue these days, with much heated debate between both proponents and opponents alike. Wedding Wars, a TV movie that originally aired on the A&E network, takes on this touchy topic, hoping to get its points across with a spoonful of humor to help the cinematic medicine go down a bit easier.

Leaf no man behind.

Ben Grandy (Eric Dane) is a speech-writer for a popular United States governor looking to get re-elected. Ben also happens to be engaged to the governor’s daughter, Maggie. Maggie would like to have Ben’s brother Shel plan the nuptials, but Ben has had a strained, distant relationship with Shel ever since Shel revealed that he was gay many years ago. But since Ben wants to make Maggie happy, he reluctantly agrees to let party-planner Shel take care of the wedding arrangements.

The planning is going smoothly – and Ben and Shel are patching up their rocky relationship – until the governor comes out in favor of a bill that would ban gay marriage in Maine. Feeling disrespected, Shel gets upset at Ben (who wrote the speech the governor delivered on TV) and puts the kibosh on the wedding preparations; he goes on strike with a picket sign in front of the governor’s mansion, much to the consternation of the governor and Ben.

Rolling Stone’s biggest issue ever.

At first, Shel isn’t having much luck on his one-man crusade for gay rights. But he gets a break when he manages to squirm his way into a live TV news broadcast at the governor’s mansion and pleads his case. Shel’s plea strikes a chord with gays across the nation and they go out on strike too, causing much inconvenience throughout the land. As media attention builds, Shel becomes a celebrity while Ben, Maggie, and the governor try to resolve the situation in a way that will please all concerned.

Meanwhile, the happy day creeps ever closer…

From this platform, the makers of Wedding Wars state their case to the viewing public. Not surprisingly, they’re in favor of gay marriage. And while it would be easy to be preachy and sanctimonious about this topic, the film-makers show restraint, making their points – on both sides of the issue – in a concise, straightforward manner with a minimum of speechifying. There are no soap-boxes in sight in Wedding Wars. At the same time, you might be wishing that the movie had a little more bite and edge; while it addresses the issues at hand, it does so in a way that won’t make anyone too upset. All the characters are likable, and there’s no real “bad guy” to the piece. While there are people in Wedding Wars who are opposed to gay marriage, it’s not because they hate gays; they’re just more in favor of “traditional” marriage between a man and a woman. The villains in Wedding Wars are fear and ignorance, and the people who are waging war against them are fighting an uphill battle.

Shel doesn’t feel tardy.

The movie is also careful to avoid portraying stereotyped “fabulous” gay characters, a trap that many other films fall into; here, gays are mostly regular Joes – and Jills – who just happen to be gay. John Stamos plays Shel with appealing dignity and a respectful nature, with no flames to be seen anywhere on his person; he’s just a guy with relationship and family issues of his own, stuck in a larger-than-life situation and trying to make the best of it. Wedding Wars could have easily went for cheap laughs by playing up gay archetypes; they don’t, but at the same time the writers couldn’t resist slipping in a couple of “gay hairdresser” jokes, as well as making sure we know that gays have great fashion and design sense. Even so, they don’t run it into the ground.

Wedding Wars has a comedic tone, but it’s by no means a hilarious movie; most of the jokes are fairly mild, worthy of a slight chuckle at most. Much of the humor comes at the expense of the daffy, clueless wedding planner brought in to replace Shel, and it’s not the most scintillating comedy you’ve ever experienced. There are some decent verbal zings here and there and Shel’s colorful rendition of the Michael Jackson classic Ben is funny, although you have to wait until the end of the movie to hear it.

Oh, this is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth?! I’m coming to join you honey! With some gays behind!

Wedding Wars isn’t the be-all/end-all movie about gay marriage, although it does score a few points and if nothing else might spur some conversations about the topic. As an actual entertainment piece it’s light, breezy and not terribly substantial, despite its noble intentions. Wedding Wars is a watchable “message” movie that doesn’t beat you over the head.

The Package

Since Wedding Wars is a recent release, it’s not surprising that the sound and picture quality of the movie is pretty good. It’s not spectacular, but it looks and sounds respectable enough. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) if you care.

Lens flare appears courtesy of Michael Bay Productions. All rights reserved.

Extra features are slim: there’s a brief behind-the-scenes segment called Gays On Strike: The Truth Behind Wedding Wars, which is basically the key members of the cast and crew talking about what a pleasure it was to make the movie and how great their co-workers were. This puff piece runs for a little under 10 minutes.

There are also a few trailers included for your viewing pleasure.

6 out of 10