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Movie Review: Jenny’s Wedding

Jude Samson reviews the film Jenny's Wedding starring Katherine Heigl.

I have never been a fan of Katherine Heigl (of Grey’s Anatomy) and have often found her “acting” one-dimensional. While she may be fond of blaming others (i.e. the writers of Grey’s Anatomy, Rom-Coms in general, and even firing her mother/manager and blaming her for a career slump) for poor box office reception and her lackluster work the end result is that her own performances are usually far from memorable. Until Jenny’s Wedding.

When it was initially announced that the movie would feature Heigl a slew of comments flew across the interwebs proclaiming their outrage that this role would fall to Heigl which may account for its measly $6.2 million total box office gross. That and the plot itself is pretty thin and seems to be more of a preachy lecture on tolerance, even going so far as to hit almost every stereotypical statement like “What did we do wrong” or the “It’s my fault” when the character finally comes out.

“HEIGL MANAGED TO TAP INTO SOME OF THE RAW EMOTIONS OF FACING YOUR FAMILY AND FIRST COMING OUT”

However, Kathrine Heigl managed to tap into some of the raw emotions of facing your family and first coming out. The gut-wrenching nervousness she clearly showed during that dreaded walk to the front door, the finger-wringing and manic pacing when trying to find the words – any words – to say. Right down to that first awkward phone call to the family afterwards. That call where you don’t know how the other person is going to react – will they talk to you, will they hate you, will they hang up, or will it all be just plain normal? She nailed it and this is where I applaud her performance.

The film itself doesn’t do anything to further the LGBT cause, it doesn’t shed any new light on the situation, and the characters were not fully realized despite actors like Tom Wilkinson, Alexis Bledel (of Gilmore Girls), and Grace Gummer (who has yet to show the acting chops for which her mother Meryl Streep is so well-known). Despite being the screenwriter behind the classic Beaches, it seems Mary Agnes Donoghue’s writing fell flat with this piece. They focused so strongly on Heigl’s character “lying” and that she never lies, but that she’s been lying for years it got to be a bit over the top and distracted away from the more important elements. There were also needlessly prolonged moments leading up to and including montages to illustrate the separation of the family and then later the father having to come to terms with things. These segments added a large chunk of time that really could have been trimmed back into one segment.

“HEIGL SEEMED TO REALLY SHINE IN THIS FILM.”

But here’s the good news. Heigl seemed to really shine in this film. Initially many potential viewers figured Bledel would be carrying the entire flick but she faded into the background as just a character to help move the story along without any substantial contribution to the overall picture. Heigl, however, nailed it when showing how nervous she was as she walked to the front door of her family’s home with the intention of coming out. When she’s speaking with her mother as she comes out, the nervous finger-wringing, the pacing, and you could almost feel how the words were getting stuck in her throat. I’ve had coming out moments like that before and I’m many others have as well. I was legitimately impressed with her ability to relay that manic sense so well across the screen.

I would have liked to see a stronger bond in the relationship being Heigl and Bledel rather than it seeming to be so minimal. Actually, a stronger bond with all the characters would have been nice and oddly enough I felt the biggest relationship development was with Gummer’s character. There was the obligatory “sap up the wrap up” miraculous breakthroughs where the entire family comes together just when it’s needed and right on time.

Overall, as a movie in general, I would say it definitely was lacking in major areas. It seemed fairly slap-dash, disjointed, and while there was continuity there was little pulling the entire piece together as a whole. Bledel was nothing more than a shadow in the background while Heigl (for a change) shined in the few moments that actually called for acting while the remaining time in the hour and half flick seemed like lagging filler.

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