A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Destination Wedding is a romance in which two cynical characters (Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder) talk a lot and make a love connection during a wedding. Expect frequent strong language, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. A fairly graphic sex scene includes lots of thrusting and loud, orgasmic moaning. And there's also plenty of sex-related talk, kissing, etc. Characters drink wine in several scenes, and a woman gets tipsy on a plane. One character briefly describes a violent incident in which he was shot, and there's lots of arguing. Characters are also frightened by a mountain lion; one chases it away by making noise, and they tumble down a hill while escaping. This is the fifth movie that Reeves and Ryder have made together, and their chemistry (along with the movie's general intelligence, humor, and pleasantness) helps sell it.
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What's the story?
In DESTINATION WEDDING, Lindsay (Winona Ryder) meets Frank (Keanu Reeves) at the airport just as they're both about to hop on a small plane to San Luis Obispo for the same "destination" wedding. They take an instant dislike to each other and so are dismayed to discover that they're sitting together on the plane ... and then staying next door to each other at the hotel. Then, while sitting together at the rehearsal dinner, they bond over their mutual distaste for the groom, who's Frank's half-brother and Lindsay's ex-boyfriend. During the wedding, they take a walk in the hills and encounter a mountain lion. They escape and make love on a hillside. But later, talking in bed, they're too cynical to admit that they might have a good thing and essentially talk themselves out of continuing to see each other. Could there still be hope?
Is it any good?
This story about two narcissistic, cynical characters could quickly have become irritating, but the tone stays light and prickly, and the enormously appealing stars have fine chemistry. Writer/director Victor Levin is perhaps best known for penning many episodes of the TV series Mad About You and directing another two-character piece (indie movie 5 to 7). He's very good at the kind of intellectually romantic dialogue on display in Destination Wedding, in which characters analyze their every move, even as their emotions chart a different course.
As director, Levin stages an admirably simple, almost experimental, movie, with the two stars performing largely in sustained two-shots, with an occasional reverse angle or cutaway and then a few beautiful "pillow" shots of San Luis Obispo to emphasize the leisurely weekend. No other characters really come into it; they're shown only at a distance and never heard speaking. The gentle score also elevates the mood, creating smiles out of supposedly downbeat conversations. Ryder and Reeves are, of course, old hands at this. They sink into their characters flawlessly and work together effortlessly. Their screen relationship began back in 1992 with Bram Stoker's Dracula and has lasted over the course of five movies, including this one. Destination Wedding is as weightless as a weekend getaway, but it's a treat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Destination Wedding depicts sex. Is it silly, or is it supposed to be titillating? What values are imparted?
Why are these characters appealing, even though they tend to be so negative? Do you think there's hope for them? Why or why not?
What does it mean when actors have "chemistry"? Do you think Ryder and Reeves have it?
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