Four Weddings and a Funeral (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 25, 2011 by Dennis Amith
A witty, fun and highly entertaining British comedy that would be the box office hit of 1994 and responsible for boosting the careers of director Mike Newell, actor Hugh Grant and actress Kristin Scott Thomas. A classic comedy worth owning on Blu-ray!
Images courtesy of © 1994 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Four Weddings and a Funeral
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1994
DURATION: 118 minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French 5.1 DTS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
RATED: R (Language and Some Sensuality)
COMPANY: Orion Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox/MGM
RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2011
Directed by Mike Newell
Written by Richard Curtis
Executive Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Produced by Duncan Kenworthy
Co-Executive Producer: Tim Bevan
Original Music by Richard Rodney Bennett
Cinematography by Michael Coulter
Edited by Jon Gregory
Casting by Michelle Guish
Production Design by Maggie Gray
Set Decoration by Anna Pinnock
Costume Design by Lindy Hemming
Hugh Grant as Charles – Weddine One
James Fleet – Tom – Wedding One
Simon Callow – Gareth – Wedding One
John Hannah – Matthew – Wedding One
Kristin Scott Thomas – Fiona – Wedding One
David Bower – David – Wedding One
Charlotte Coleman – Scarlett – Wedding One
Andie McDowell – Carrie – Wedding One
Timothy Walker – Angus the Groom – Wedding One
Sara Crow – Laura the Bride – Wedding One
David Haig – Bernard the Groom – Wedding Two
Sophia Thompson – Lydia the Bride – Wedding Two
Corin Redrave – Hamish – Wedding Two
Struan Rodger – Best Man – Wedding Three
Randall Paul – Chester – Wedding Three
John Abbott – Polite Verger – Wedding Four
Susanna Hamnett – Deirdre – Wedding Four
Richard Butler – Vicar – Wedding Four
Charlie (Grant) is always the best man but never the groom. Determined to avoid even a hint of commitment, this handsome English gentleman is notoriously late to every wedding. But today he’s in for a real surprise because not only did he forget the ring…but he also just caught a glimpse of the girl of his dreams (MacDowell)! “Elegant, festive and very, very funny” (The New York Times), Four Weddings and a Funeral is engaging entertainment from beginning to end.
It was the surprise hit of 1994.
“Four Weddings and a Funeral”, a film directed by Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Enchanting April”, “Donnie Brasco”, “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time”) and written by Richard Curtis (Mr. Bean”, “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, “Notting Hill” became the UK’s highest-grossing film in history at the time (earning over $245 million worldwide) and also earning an Academy Award for “Best Picture”.
The film would also jumpstart the career of Newell but also its leading actor, an unknown talent named Hugh Grant who would go on to become an International star with “Notting Hill”, “Mickey Blue Eyes” and “Bridget Jone’s Diary” and also boost the career of actress Kristin Scott Thomas and John Hannah to name a few.
The film would feature a man named Charles (played by Hugh Grant) who joins his friends for the wedding of their friends Angus (played by Timothy Walker) and Laura (played by Sara Crowe). Charles and his group of friends often discuss when will they ever get married and for Charles, it’s just something that he’s not interested in doing right now.
While at the wedding, he spots a beautiful American woman named Carrie (played by Andie MacDowell). Immediately the two hit it off and that same night, the two sleep with each other. After they have sex, Carrie teases Charles that the two will now get married because they had sex. Charles is shocked by her question but realizes that she is joking… or is she? Needless to say, she goes back to America and as for Charles, he wonders… could this woman have been the one?
Time for a second wedding, this time for Bernard (played by David Haig) and Lydia (played by Sophie Thompson). A lot of faces from the first wedding are back and have changed with Bernard and Lydia now getting married, the trainee priest Gerald (played by Rowan Atkinson) now a full-fledged priest now performing his first ceremony. And as for Charles and friends, no major change and things are still the same.
While at the wedding, Charles sees Carrie and is very happy but finds out that she is engaged to Sir Hamish Banks (played by Corin Redgrave), a wealthy politician from Scotland. Charles is depressed and ends up sitting with a few of his ex-girlfriends including Henrietta (a.k.a. “Duckface”, played by Anna Chancellor). It appears that Charles and Henrietta may get back together but while Charles is walking around, he runs into Carrie and despite Carrie being engaged to Sir Hamish Banks, the two sleep with each other once again but knowing that she is going to marry the politician.
When Charles receives an invitation to the wedding, while shopping for a gift for Carrie, he runs into her and helps her select her wedding dress. When the two talk, he tries to tell her that he loves her but he knows that it’s too late.
The third wedding focuses on the marriage of Carrie and Hammish in Scotland. Charles is quite depressed by the marriage but this time, instead of his friends talk about finding people to love and marry, it appears that others have found potential mates. His roommate Scarlett (played by Charlotte Coleman) is attracted to an American, Tom (played by James Fleet) is getting to know the minister’s wife and as for Fiona (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), she has confessed to Charles that she has always loved him but knows that he is not interested in her.
Meanwhile their good friend Mathew (played by John Hannah) and his boyfriend Gareth (played by Simon Callow) seem to be happy in love but during the wedding party, Gareth collapses and dies. This makes Charles and Tom talk about whether or not finding a true love is possible and the friends talk about if they are happy being single?
So, feeling that “true love” probably doesn’t exist…time has passed and Charles decides maybe he’ll marry Henrietta. But on that day, life for Charles will never be the same again.
“Four Weddings and a Funeral” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1). I tend to be one of the few who tend to get critical of films released in the late ’80s and early ’90s and brought to Blu-ray because a lot of film stock at that time used for films were not the best. Some films tend to look their age, some tend to look a bit soft. For “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, actually picture quality leaned more towards the good side.
For one, scenes shot outdoors do showcase a good amount of color but at the same time, it does show its age where colors look a tad bit saturated. But just a bit. There is a good amount of grain and I did see some white speckles but for the most part, the film does look good, just don’t expect picture quality compared to today’s modern films.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Four Weddings and a Funeral” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround and French 5.1 DTS HD. For this comedy, it’s a dialogue-driven film with some music, so you can expect a more center and front-channel driven soundtrack. Fortunately, there is use of the surround channels as you can hear ambiance, especially birds chirping all around you at times. But it’s not an immersive soundtrack but for this type of film and considering the age of the film, the lossless soundtrack is good.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Four Weddings and a Funeral” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary with Filmmakers – If you owned the original “Deluxe Edition” of the previous DVD, the wonderful audio commentary with comments from director Mike Newell and Richard Curtis as well as Duncan Kenworthy are included. An in-depth and fun audio commentary worthy listening to!
- Four Weddings and a Funeral: In the Making Featurette – (7:45) Featuring interviews with the cast of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” about their role and behind-the-scenes footage from the film.
- The Wedding Planners – (29:48) Featuring the making of the film, the challenges experienced while making the film and how casting was made for the film.
- Two Actors and a Director Featurette – (5:41) Mike Newell talks about hiring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell including interviews with the two cast members.
- Deleted Scenes – (9:56) Featuring five deleted scenes with optional introductions by producer Duncan Kenworthy.
- Promotional Spots – Featuring two never-used promotional spots by Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell and featuring optional commentary by producer Duncan Kenworthy.
- Trailer – (2:08) Featuring the original theatrical trailer to “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.
When I was attending college, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was the ultimate guy film which I saw many friends watch over and over and being the only guy around the group who had a girlfriend at the time, I would listen and hear them talk about how this movie spoke to them.
Does “true love” exist? Is it better to be single and have fun?
And I really don’t know how many times my friends had this playing on their VHS but this was a film that spoke to people on various levels. Gave them hope!
As for me, the film didn’t speak to me in terms of relationships but it further enhanced my appreciation for British comedies. What I loved about the film was its various characters and while the film was primarily about Charles and Carrie, its the other supporting cast that I found entertaining and helped enhance the storyline around Charles.
And sure enough, the film made Hugh Grant a star and Mike Newell, he would go on to make blockbuster films. I was surprised to see Kristin Scott Thomas in a more smaller role but watching this film back then, I had no doubt in my mind we would be seeing more of Thomas in cinema and similar to Grant, we would see more of Thomas in films such as “Mission Impossible” and “The English Patient”. And another actor who would also gain from being part of the film is John Hannah who went on to work on “The Mummy” films.
For the most part, everyone gave a solid performance in the film. If there was one person that actually irked me back then, it was Andie MacDowell’s character as Carrie. For someone who knows people of great influence and someone who looked as if she was an intellectual, somehow her character and the lines she was given were almost making her come out looking like an airhead. But then again, perhaps I was too enamored by her in “Groundhog Day” and “Short Cuts” back then.
As for the Blu-ray release, I know that many people own the Deluxe Edition DVD that came out in 2006 which has the same special features featured on this Blu-ray. So, is it worth upgrading? Well, because it’s a catalog title, more than likely you are going to find this release for a lower price and if that is the case, then yes, it’s definitely worth it to upgrade to an HD version, especially if you love the film, then definitely Blu-ray is the way go go.. But at the same time, it is not necessarily a film that showcases an immersive soundscape when it comes to lossless audio and as for the picture quality, just don’t have huge expectations and expected significant differences PQ-wise over its DVD counterpart.
But if you haven’t owned or even watched the film before, then yes, definitely give “Four Weddings and a Funeral” a chance! It’s witty, fun and highly entertaining!
Overall, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” is a film that many people love, some place it high amongst their top romantic comedies and as mentioned earlier, for some guys, this movie speaks to them, especially those wondering if “true love” exists. For me, it was just a fun British comedy, nothing more, nothing less and I enjoyed it.
So, if you really love this film, then definitely upgrade to Blu-ray!
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