Ali's Wedding

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Ali's Wedding Movie Poster Image
Engaging Australian romcom has some language.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 110 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Lies have consequences. Determination and persistence are rewarded. Values promoted: commitment to family, honesty, resourcefulness, and owning up to one's mistakes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Presents a heartwarming, positive look at today's cosmopolitan Muslim culture, specifically in Australia. Hero is, at heart, generous, loving, loyal, and enterprising. He learns valuable lessons about honesty. While Muslim traditions separate women and make them subject to male dominance, film shows how younger women are effecting change, standing up for themselves as individuals. Central family is an ideal one: attentive, communicative, and loving.  

Violence

Two brief flashback sequences have violent content: An Iraqi man is shot by soldiers (he survives); a young boy steps on a mine and is killed (the explosion is off-camera). 

Sex

Kissing. Young boys ogle girls. Some sexual banter.

Language

Occasional swearing, slurs: "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "knock her up," "you godless Arab donkey."

Consumerism

Incidental: Extra gum, Coca-Cola.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An elderly man smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ali's Wedding is a warmhearted romcom about a young man whose life is changed forever when he tells a lie. "Based on a true story," the tale is set in today's Australia among a Muslim community whose members have immigrated from various countries in the Middle East. It presents a humorous and very positive look at a religious culture undergoing dramatic shifts while holding fast to some of its most valued traditions. It's a love story, for sure, but almost as much a love story about fathers and their children as it is about the young couple who fall in love. Violence occurs in two brief flashback sequences: A young boy steps on a land mine, and a man is shot by soldiers. Occasional swearing and insults are heard, such as "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," and "idiot." An ethnic slur, "godless Arab donkey," is used as well. Expect some kissing, sexual banter like "knock her up," boys ogling girls, etc.

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What's the story?

ALI'S WEDDING is set in a close-knit Muslim community in Melbourne, Australia, that's made up of transplanted families who have escaped persecution from their home countries. Their leader, both spiritual and cultural, is Mahdi (Don Hany), a wise and courageous Iraqi man. His son, Ali (Osamah Sami, also the film's co-writer and associate producer), is caught between the traditions of his family and the modern liberalism of the West. It's a critical moment in Ali's life. He's about to take his medical school entrance exams, and he's aware that his family is ready to choose a bride for him. When, in a moment of great fear of embarrassment for both him and his family, Ali tells a significant lie, he's catapulted into a world of escalating deception, along with the dread of exposure. Only his budding but "forbidden" relationship with Dianne (Helana Sawires), a young Lebanese medical student, gives him solace. Unfortunately for Ali, the arranged marriage can't be stopped. And, at the same time, a jealous rival of his father's senses the truth, and is determined to unmask him. This critical time in Ali's life appears to have become unmanageable. Or has it? 

Is it any good?

The combination of endearing lead characters, an imaginative plot, and a good-natured look at a flourishing Muslim community in modern Australia makes for a comedy rich in texture and warmth. Hard to believe, but this story really happened in the life of lead actor and co-writer Osamah Sami, though surely the filmmakers have taken some dramatic license with the truth. How wonderful that Sami was able to enlist the talented, first-time feature director Jeffrey Walker to bring his "journey" to film. Walker's second feature (released earlier), Dance Academy, confirms his ability to brighten his subject matter and find that sweet spot that endears his characters to audiences.

Performances are all first-rate in Ali's Wedding. Special kudos to the two young leads, Sami and Helana Sawires, and Don Hany, who makes his Muslim cleric both wise and funny. The production is rich with flavor -- settings, costumes, music. Everything just works. Recommended for teens, especially romantic comedy fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how movies, even comedies, can serve to educate and change attitudes for audiences. What did you learn about the Muslim religion and culture in Ali's Wedding? Did Ali's family and community alter your perspective of that society? In what ways? 

  • Do you think that Ali learns integrity and perseverance over the course of the movie? If so, how? Why are those important character strengths?

  • How accurate do you think the film is to what happened in Ali's real life? Why might filmmakers alter the facts in a movie based on a true story, or even movies based on books and other fiction? 

Movie details

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