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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 08:48 GMT
Why weddings ring box office bells
A screen grab from Margot and the Wedding
Margot at the Wedding is a more dramatic take on weddings
Friday sees the UK release of two wedding films: Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman and Jack Black, and The Accidental Husband, with Uma Thurman and Colin Firth.

Film critic Joe Queenan explained to BBC World Service's On Screen programme why wedding films had such enduring appeal - and why they were box office gold.

Wedding films never go out of fashion - and never will.

In recent years, films treating this topic have included Wedding Crashers, My Best Friend's Wedding, The Wedding Planner, The Wedding, The Runaway Bride, The Wedding Singer, Polish Wedding, and of course My Big Fat Greek Wedding - a surprise hit, made on a shoestring, that turned into the most lucrative screen comedy ever.

Slightly older wedding films include Four Weddings and a Funeral and the very amusing Muriel's Wedding, directed by the man who would later direct My Best Friend's Wedding.

Not all wedding movies are good, but the odd dud here and there will not prevent more wedding films from coming.

Why are these films so enduringly popular with directors, screenwriters and audiences? Several reasons.

Happy ever after?

For starters, with the exception of deliberately offensive films like Bride of Chucky, movies about weddings are generally splatter-free.

There are no AK-47s, no explosions, no deadly microbes, no dead girls slithering out of the TV set.

Hard as it may seem to believe in this day and age, there is still a substantial part of the adult population that actually enjoys seeing movies where no-one is dismembered or decapitated, or devoured by hungry anacondas.

Accidental Husband stars Uma Thurman and Colin Firth
Most brides do not, in fact, get to live happily ever after - certainly not in my family - so it's nice if Cameron Diaz or Julia Roberts or Andie MacDowell or somebody gets to
This group is loosely referred to as "not 12-year-old boys".

In certain quarters, those who love wedding films may also be referred to as "women".

Since women make up a goodly portion of audience for motion pictures where good triumphs over evil, where all's well that ends well, and where death takes a holiday, their affection for wedding films should come as no surprise.

Moreover, since films about weddings almost always end happily, there is something inherently alluring about the happy-ever-after theme.

Most brides do not, in fact, get to live happily ever after - certainly not in my family - so it's nice if Cameron Diaz or Julia Roberts or Andie MacDowell or somebody gets to.

Just as sports movies provide men with the happy endings that never occur in real sporting events, wedding movies allow women to experience the vicarious euphoria of participating in a time-honoured ritual that actually leaves everyone smiling.

Thorny problem

The fact is, for some women, the day they wed may be the last 24-hour period in their lives in which they are truly happy.

This is especially true of women who marry Paraguayan bodybuilders or fans of Norwegian death metal.

A screen grab from Monsoon Wedding
Monsoon Wedding was one of Bollywood's biggest global hits
But in the end, none of these explanations gets to the actual heart of the matter about wedding films.

Weddings make perfect subjects for cinema because most films involve finding a solution to a thorny problem, and weddings are nothing if not a thorny problem.

Almost all the movies I have cited involve delayed weddings, or cancelled weddings, or weddings that come perilously close to not even happening.

A friend of mine suggested that women who have been through all the rigmarole of planning a wedding enjoy watching wedding films, because finally someone else has to go through the hell they went through.

Will the bride back out? Will the cake get delivered on time?

Will the best man remember to bring the ring? Was hiring two bagpipe players a good idea?

My friend, by the way, is still single.


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