Wedding Bell Blues

on June 13, 1997 by Ian Hodder
   "I didn't know turning 30 was terminal," declares single, commitment-phobic Jasmine ("Grace of My Heart's" Illeana Douglas), thus summarizing the impetus for "Wedding Bell Blues." This first flick from director Dana Lustig is an above-average romantic comedy laden with well-delivered yucks that also has something smart to say about aging, relationships and the pressure on women to marry young.
   Fed up with men, Jasmine and her two roommates--Micki ("Doc Hollywood's" Julie Warner) and Tanya (supermodel/actress Paulina Porizkova, currently in "Female Perversions")--embark on a road trip to Las Vegas. Their mission: to find husbands, marry, and quickly divorce. Their fast-approaching thirtieth birthdays will be easier to stomach, they reckon, as glamorous divorcees than as old maids.
   "Wedding Bell Blues" owes much to an ingenious script by Annete Goliti-Gutierrez. She builds the story not only upon the protagonists' relationships with their male counterparts but also upon their relationships with each another. The benefit is a fool-proof framework from which to pull genuine laughs and character development. Lustig's direction remains focused on resolving the women's issues, and her film generates an engaging momentum; the distaff demo is likely to chuckle knowingly about such common topics as bridesmaid dresses, pregnancy tests, and men.
   Also to Lustig's credit, even such seen-it-before moments as cruising the Vegas Strip seem fresh rather than cliched, and she extracts superb performances from the entire cast. Leading the pack is Douglas, who's never been saucier, with Warner and Porizkova not far behind. Each actress slips with ease into a character she clearly understands. Rounding out the ensemble is a fine supporting cast, including John Corbett (TV's "Northern Exposure"), Charles Martin Smith ("Never Cry Wolf"), and Hollywood's latest discovery, Debbie Reynolds, as herself. Despite a handful of cornpone moments, "Wedding Bell Blues" exceeds its own expectations, and leaves viewers wondering what may have happened next to the movie's heroines. "The First Wives Club," perhaps?    Starring Illeana Douglas, Paulina Porizkova and Julie Warner. Directed by Dana Lustig. Written by Annete Goliti-Gutierrez. Produced by Ram Bergman, Dana Lustig, Carole Curb Nemoy and Mike Curb. A Legacy release. Romantic comedy. Rated R for sex-related content. Running time: 104 min. Screened at Women in Cinema Festival, Seattle.
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