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A story about getting everything right.

Note: This movie review is one of the films in my Top 5 Queer Holiday Film 2019

“The Perfect Wedding” is a cute, charming independent film that can hold its ground up there with Hallmark and other similar rom-coms films. It might not have the large production budget of major films, but the heart of the story is the sincerity and heartwarming storyline. It adds a comedic twist to examine family bonds, misunderstandings, and what it takes to plan the “perfect wedding.”

Still from "The Perfect Wedding" - Paul looks over at Roy, as they chat with Paul's sister (offscreen)

Synopsis of “The Perfect Wedding”

Paul (played by the quite attractive Rico Aragon) is a recovering alcoholic living at home with his parents in sunny Florida. His adopted sister Alana (Apolonia Davalos), is coming home for Christmas. But this isn’t just a normal visit home for the holidays, as the entire family are gathering to plan her upcoming June wedding. Alana invited her best friends Roy (Roger Stewart) and Vicki (Annie Kerins) along to help plan. Except Roy is Paul’s ex-boyfriend, and their breakup was not pretty. Not sure what to expect during the visit, Roy asks his good friend Gavin (the equally attractive Jason T. Gaffney) to tag along and pretend to be his new boyfriend. Hanging over all of this is their father’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimers, which his wife Meryl (Kristine Sutherland) is having a difficult time accepting.

As the family gathers and everyone meets, the sparks of attraction start to fly between Paul and Gavin. The hilarious “drama” ensues: Gavin thinks Roy still is hung up on Paul and actually tries to bring the two back together. Paul is falling for Gavin – except he still feels horrible about cheating on Roy and ruining their relationship, so the last thing he wants to do is mess up things with Roy’s new “boyfriend.” And Roy has zero interest in Paul, almost not wanting to accept Paul’s apology for screwing up. As if this love triangle isn’t enough to provide ample source for comedy and intrigue, Meryl has overtaken the wedding plans, preparing a big elaborate wedding that doesn’t quite seem on par with what Alana has always dreamed of.

I don’t want to give away too much, but what follows after is a wonderful mix of comedic moments, some deep, and a sudden twist which results in a decision that will melt even the Grinch’s heart.

Still from "The Perfect Wedding" - Alaina's sunset Christmas Eve wedding, everyone dressed in white

The Good

Before I dig into some of the films wonderful touching scenes of “The Perfect Wedding”, I’ll tackle the cinematographic elements. Yes, this is an independent film – but there is a polish and smoothness to the camera work. They might not have had the budget, but everyone working behind the scenes knows how to bring a script to life on the screen. “The Perfect Wedding” is cast extremely well, with talented actors – even though many are not well known! And the two who are are phenomenal together and with the others. There’s one scene they have which has a somber sadness to it, yet is touching and amazingly heartfelt. All of the cast has a realness to their acting, no one is over the top and each character is believable.

A great script helps too. While there might be some cheesy comedic jokes thrown in, there are some great lines that allow the actors to connect and create wonderful moments. “The Perfect Wedding” might be a bit slower paced than many other modern films, but that is actually one of the scripts greatest strengths. It never rushes the forward momentum, slowly building as we watch.

There are two scenes in that I feel shine above all the others and prove the film’s greatness. The first is between Paul and Gavin, taking place on Christmas Eve as Gavin is attempting to set up the game he got for Roy’s present. There is a banter between the two of them, which has been building from the first time they meet. We see them continue that before getting into a more deeper talk about themselves and the future, leading up to that first kiss between them. But because of the “pretend” relationship between Gavin and Roy, it ends abruptly – but with a lingering for more.

My second favourite scene in “The Perfect Wedding” is between Meryl (Sutherland) and Richard (James Rebhorn). Richard is coming to talk to his wife regarding the sudden change of plans the kids are getting together while Meryl is finishing up a phone convo with an event planner. He asks her whether the huge extravagant wedding she is planning for their daughter is actually what Alana wants – or is merely something so big that he will remember it as his Alzheimer’s worsens. Richard tells Meryl: “We have right now. Not Christmas Past, not Christmas Future – Christmas Present. And right now I think Christmas Present seems pretty good.” In the hands of these two amazingly talented actors, this scene is touching and utterly beautiful. It’s a somber scene, but one that brings reality back into the picture before jumping right back into the joyous celebrations afterward.

Still from "The Perfect Wedding" - Meryl (Kristine Sutherland) and Richard (James Rebhorn) have a heart-to-heart talk

The issues

I’ve already noted that “The Perfect Wedding” is an independent one – it lacks the large budget and large names that usually come with that. This results with much of the cast and production crew being relatively new and unknown, aside from the talented Sutherland and Rebhorn. Many of the negative reviews of this film capitalise on this, noting that the script is poorly written or remarking that it’s subpar because it is independent. I say most of this is simply wrong and that some of the better films are from independent companies with unknown talent.

Lastly, as I am reviewing this film as part of my Top 5 Queer Holiday Films list, there is one element about “The Perfect Wedding” that I need to note – the Christmas element is a bit underrated. Yes, it’s sunny Florida where there is no snow even at Christmas, and while we have scenes of the family decorating, the main plot could take place outside the holidays and still work.

Still from "The Perfect Wedding" - Paul & Roy gaze at each other after their wedding kiss, their families behind them

“The Perfect Wedding” might not be an obvious holiday film, but there are so many great heartfelt moments in this film that make it worthwhile to watch. Hallmark would be wise to take notes!

Queer Relevance of “The Perfect Wedding”

There is no doubt of the queer relevance of “The Perfect Wedding” – it features three gay male characters. Better yet, they aren’t delegated to sidekicks or mere comic relief. The relationship triangle between Paul, Roy, and Gavin adds humour and fits in nicely with the entire film’s plot.