Busting the BritWedCom boom: Since Four Weddings and a Funeral conquered all, UK films have been trying to recreate the magic


Alice Jones
Friday 06 June 2014 15:25 BST
Richard Curtis made it look too easy with his sublimely enjoyable Four Weddings and a Funeral
Richard Curtis made it look too easy with his sublimely enjoyable Four Weddings and a Funeral

Four weddings and a funeral. And that was all it took. $245,700,823 (£146,923,932) at the global box office and a couple of Oscar nominations later, a genre was born. The BritWedCom. Ever since Hugh Grant stammered his swear words out, the British film industry has tried relentlessly, unashamedly, like a randy best man with the prettiest bridesmaid, to make sparks fly again.

It hasn't worked. The problem is, Richard Curtis made it look too easy with his sublimely enjoyable film. It seems like such a simple thing, to make a hit romcom out of a British wedding. It's a ready-made comedy of manners, all human life and drama is there.

There is in-built jeopardy, romance and glamour. There are parts for handsome, young talents, international guest stars and ageing character actors. The UK is overflowing with suitably picturesque venues. It rains a lot here, which can be funny. We are good at flowers and cakes.

And yet, so many illustrious comedy talents have tripped up on their zany dash to the altar since 1994. Remember 2006's Confetti which starred Jessica Stevenson, Jimmy Carr, Martin Freeman, Julia Davis and Olivia Colman, and attempted to combine the BritWedCom with the fly-on-the-wall style of The Office? No, me neither.

How about The Wedding Video with Robert Webb, Lucy Punch and Rufus Hound? It took $1.7m (£1m) at the box office in 2012 – maybe everyone was watching the Olympics. Last year Dan Mazer, producer of Borat and Brüno, had a go at subverting the BritWedCom in I Give it a Year, but aside from a cringingly terrible best man's speech from Stephen Merchant, it was largely unmemorable.

Nothing daunted, so far 2014's offerings include Almost Married ('There are stag dos... and stag don'ts!') and a Hangover knock-off called The Stag ('They're about to get in touch with their masculine side!').

Four Weddings and a hundred flops, then, but for one notable, noisy exception. In 2008, Mamma Mia! moved the BritWedCom abroad and made it musical. It took over $609m (£364m) globally and is the sixth highest-grossing film of all time at the UK box office.

Naturally, that, too, has now spawned its own copycat. Walking on Sunshine – 'Do you remember your first holiday romance? Taylor does, the only problem is her sister is now marrying him...' – is set in Italy and features a soundtrack of Eighties hits. It is released this month, more will surely follow. The British film industry and wedcoms, till death do they part, indeed.

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