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The Wedding Guest

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Wedding Guest Movie Poster Image
Too-realistic take on pulpy kidnapping story has violence.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Nothing ever seems to be at stake. There are no repercussions for poor choices/actions -- including kidnappings, killings, and more.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Definitely no role models here: Characters are all killers, criminals, gangsters, kidnappers, two-timers, etc.

Violence

Guns and shooting. Characters shot and killed. Character pummeled with a rock. Bloody face. Burning corpse. Woman kidnapped, tied up, placed in trunk of car.

Sex

Kissing, cuddling in bed. Flirting. Partial nudity includes a woman's breasts and bottom and a man's chest.

Language

Many uses of "f--k" and "f---ing." Also "s--t," "bulls--t," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

Brief billboards for Coca-Cola and Pepsi (in Pakistan).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Regular cigarette smoking. Pot smoking. Brief social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wedding Guest is a crime drama/romance directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Dev Patel that's set in Pakistan and India. Violent scenes/images include guns and shooting, dead bodies, a man being beaten to death with a rock, a burned body, and a woman being kidnapped and held prisoner. A man and a woman kiss and snuggle in bed. The man is shown shirtless, the woman is briefly topless, and her bare bottom is briefly shown. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and more. Characters smoke cigarettes frequently and drink socially, and there's a scene of pot smoking. The movie's story is familiar and pulpy, but the presentation is somber and realistic.

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What's the story?

In THE WEDDING GUEST, a man (Dev Patel) prepares for a mysterious trip: packing, renting a car. He makes a stop to buy guns and then reaches his destination, a wedding in Pakistan. He claims to be an old college roommate of the groom's, so the family takes him in and gives him dinner. Later, the man breaks in to the compound, kidnaps the bride-to-be (Radhika Apte), and shoots a guard. It seems that the man has been hired by the woman's other lover, a gangster (Jim Sarbh), to give her one more chance to choose the man she wants to be with. After a trip to India and an argument over money, the gangster is left behind, and the kidnapper and the woman hit the road together. They're now on a mission to find a quick, realistic-looking passport for her -- and a place to hide forever.

Is it any good?

It could have been a slick romantic comedy, or perhaps an action-packed crime film with lots of playful flirting, but instead this drama, steeped in somber realism, is lifeless and forgettable. The Wedding Guest comes from veteran director Michael Winterbottom, who tends to specialize in serious, realistic movies (with the occasional dry comedy or literary adaptation thrown in), and whose ambition sometimes transcends and eclipses his material. In this case, he's taken a pretty simple, almost old-fashioned crime story, and pulled back from it, telling it as if it were happening in the real world, in modern times. It just feels mismatched.

Winterbottom follows the kidnapper character as he takes care of the various details of his assignment:-buying duct tape, renting two cars to throw the law off the trail, etc. A genre film would have shown how these errands snapped into place and added up to something. The Wedding Guest simply stumbles over them, as if they never mattered. Even worse, the main relationship should have had some kind of spark, but it feels mechanical and plot-driven, especially given Patel's constantly grim-faced performance. In other words, the movie could have been fun, but it isn't; could have been romantic or exciting, but it isn't. Sometimes realism isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Wedding Guest's violence. How intense is it? Is it thrilling or shocking? What consequences are there (if any)?

  • How is sex depicted? What values are imparted?

  • Does the movie glorify smoking? Does it look cool? What about drinking and pot smoking? Are there any consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Is the bride-to-be merely a kidnap victim, or is she able to assert her own strengths and act on her own needs?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills and laughs

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