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Over forty-years after the drama Guess Who's Coming to Dinner brought out the issue of interracial marriage, a common theme among marriage comedies have been families that don't quite get along. In Fox Searchlight's newest comedy, Our Family Wedding, it is the culture clash between a non-traditional black family and a highly traditional Mexican family that makes the film so comedic and heartwarming.
Lucia Ramirez (America Ferrera) and Marcus Boyd (Lance Gross) become engaged in New York City, across the country from their families who live in Los Angeles. Lucia has dropped out of Columbia Law to pursue a degree volunteering to teach immigrants while Marcus is headed to Laos with Doctors Without Borders. They decide they want to get married before Marcus leaves for Laos and hope to get their families together for a quick wedding before they leave. Of course, when family gets involved, everything goes haywire.
Marcus's father is Brad Boyd (Forest Whitaker), a sultry late night DJ who specializes in one-night stands with girls younger than Marcus himself. While his mother is not in the picture, Brad's lawyer Angie (Regina King) serves as the mother figure in Marcus's life and besides being Brad's best friend, a romance is beginning to grow between Angie and Brad as they help plan Marcus's wedding. Brad Boyd's life is very modern, shown by the industrial, contemporary and modern stylings of everything from his home to his suites to the car he drives.
Image Credit: CC
On the other hand, Lucia's family is all about tradition. They live in a traditional clapboard Victorian full of homespun flavor and references to their Mexican hertiage. Lucia's father Miguel (Carlos Mencia) runs a towing and car detailing business where her sister Issy (Anjelah N. Johnson) works. Mother Sonia (Diana-Maria Riva) stays at home and makes jewelry and grandmother lives at home too (Lupe Ontiveros). Lucia's family is all about traditional, Mexican family values and are stunned when she doesn't bring home a Latino to marry.
The fathers in particular get off to a bad start when Miguel tows Brad's car and Brad makes a few insenstive jokes about Mexican-Americans. The two are completely at each other's throats by then, causing most of the problems for the married couple. Lucia's family wants a traditional Mexican wedding while Brad insists on having some African-American traditions at the wedding too, even though he doesn't really know of anything. Lucia and Marcus watch in horror as their family takes over their wedding, turning it from a small occasion to an over-the-top affair and putting the young couple's relationship into crisis as a result. The two have to keep their sanity by chanting "Our Marriage. Their Wedding" over and over again.
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However, the parents do come around and give their kids some very good romance advice. Though he is unpleasantly divorced, Brad gives his son some good advice on marrying such as the importance of the little things and that he should marry his best friend. Carlos imparts on both Lucia and Marcus the value of family, trust, and taking care of each other. Despite all the craziness, the families, in the end, both learn and gain something valuable.
The jokes in the film are pretty good, though it is the slapstick between Mencia and Whitaker that keeps most of the film rolling. They manage to find some new jokes and avenues in an old genre, mainly by playing on the cultural aspects of the mixed race relationship. The score of the film is also great to groove out to, mixing the best of jazz, R&B, tejano, marachi and traditional Mexican songs.
In the end, this film is about the blending of cultures and how, despite our differences, we can all get along.