Mild rather than wild is a perfect description of Damian Harris’ ensemble comedy about Eve Wilde (Glenn Close), an aging actress who assembles her large family at her estate in upstate New York to celebrate her marriage—her fourth—to noted novelist Harold Alcott (Patrick Stewart). Among the guests are Eve’s grown children Rory (Jack Davenport), Ethan (Peter Facinelli) and Jimmy (Noah Emmerich), her first husband and their father, actor Laurence Darling (John Malkovich), and Harold’s daughters Clementine (Yael Stone), Rose (Lily Englert) and Bee (Kara Jackson), along with other assorted relatives—like Rory’s ex Priscilla (Minnie Driver) and scads of grandchildren, not to mention mere friends and hangers-on.
In what follows Harris seems to be striving for a “Smiles of a Summer Night” vibe as the characters interconnect, flirt and (all too frequently) break into song, but it proves very short on the smiles part. In one of the script’s many miscalculations, the back story is related to us in voiceover by one of Eve’s grandchildren (Grace Van Patten), speaking into the lens of the video camera she’s using to make a documentary of the event. It seems that Laurence was the person responsible for giving Eve her start on stage, but her meteoric rise soon eclipsed his journeyman career, and he’s never gotten over it. But they’re still devoted friends.
Thankfully the details of Eve’s intervening two marriages are skimmed over to allow for the preparations of this next one to proceed. They don’t do so very smoothly, of course, especially since beaucoup bottles of wine and some drug-fueled chocolates enter into the festivities. Perhaps that helps to explain why Harold succumbs to what he willingly admits is a naturally lascivious nature and has a nocturnal encounter out in the woods with the best friend of one of his daughters, who has joined the group. The event is caught on tape and, in the way of such things nowadays, makes its way onto a blog on the Internet, causing much consternation among the principals and a supposedly magical change of plans that’s supposed to have a preordained feel to it but instead comes across as synthetic.
But the whole film has an artificial feel, from Stewart’s egregious hairpiece down to the whole Alice B. Toklas chocolates device. There are far too many characters introduced to keep track of, and most of them are sketched so flimsily that the actors are lucky to have a single trait to latch onto. One would expect better treatment of the three leads, but though both Close and Stewart try, neither can make one care very much about Eve or Harold, both of whom are pretty much one-note figures. Malkovich comes off better, simply because Laurence’s combination of twee and pomposity (along with a colorful array of costumes) gives him something to play with. He also gets virtually all of the script’s amusing lines—though admittedly there aren’t all that many.
The picture is quite handsome to look at, thanks to the location at Ardsley-on-Hudson, the production design by Arthur Jongewaard, costumes by Stacey Berman and Paula Huidobro’s cinematography. But P.T Walkley’s incessantly bouncy score, which tries to persuade us that the material is scintillating, is an irritant.
By the time this fluffy piece of nonsense finally expires, you might think of it more as a cinematic wake than a wedding.