“Gringo Wedding” Movie Review - A Film By Tas Salini
"Gringo Wedding" opened on May 7, 2003. The films domestic box office gross was $26,946.
When I was forwarded some information about “Gringo Wedding” from friend and fellow MiamiBeach411.com correspondent Maria, it looked like it might be an interesting little independent film with some local appeal. After all, it had won the overall prize at the vaunted Ft. Lauderdale film festival and was an official selection at festivals in Bogota, Cartagena and something called the “SolDance” Film festival, which I can only assume is an attempt at a Spanish version of Sundance. Having now seen the film and looking at the cities at which the film won awards, my only guess is that it was bankrolled by violent drug money and the top prizes were not so much awarded but given out of fear.
The premise sounds like it might make for a cute date movie. A guy from America goes to Colombia and meets the woman of his dreams. Their families object, they don’t care, love conquers all boundaries blah, blah, blah and they all live happily ever after. And while cinematic love stories are a stretch of reality at their very best, “Gringo Wedding” takes your suspension of disbelief, severs its suspension cords, and sends it crashing to the ground.
The American, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, left-handed Jew named Matt who lives in Miami (he must be the only other one) is the type of guy who picks women up at Publix and then takes them back to his Brickell condo for sex. But Playboy Matt is looking for Miss Right and Miss Right is not the kind of girl who goes home with you after you comment on her selection of bottled water. He confesses to some Hispanic friend that he likes Latin women but apparently can’t meet any. EXCUSE ME??!! If you claim you are not running in the same circles as Latin women in Miami your “circles” must be confined to the inside of your brain. Try leaving your apartment and you will literally trip on six before you even get out of the elevator. After this scintillating revelation, Matt gets a flier on his convertible for a “dating” site that invites American men to go to Colombia for a week to find women. He decides to take a week off and go snatch himself up a Latin bride.
Rebecca is drop-dead gorgeous and her family is worth a good deal of money. Her father is a retired member of the Colombian military and lives in a mansion with servants. No, no drug money there. After Rebecca is SHOCKED to find her suave Colombian boyfriend cheating on her (why are they even surprised anymore?) she decides to take some pictures at this agency to meet an American guy. Now, first of all, if my girlfriend’s dad is a rich officer in the Colombian military, I don’t know there is a girl in the world that’s worth pissing him off. Because she would likely be the last girl I ever slept with. Second, if I am hot and rich and have a perfect life in Colombia, why exactly do I need to meet some rich American to take me away form the horrors that are being the wealthiest 1% of the population?
And so it goes that Matt goes to Colombia and meets Rebecca. Who he sleeps with on the first date and proposes to on the second. All without her speaking any English. She accepts, Generalisimo gets mad, Matt’s Jewish mother starts to cry, but they get married anyway. At the Dade County courthouse next to a sailor his stripper fiancée. Sadly, Rebecca is horrified to learn that Matt does not have a house servant, and is unable to adjust to the rigors of cleaning a 1-bedroom apartment and cooking simple meals for two. Life in Miami becomes too foreign for this South American girl and she returns home. Yes, Rebecca leaves her “true love” because she doesn’t want to have to do any work at all and won’t do the bare minimal amount of cultural adjusting it takes for a Latina to live in Miami. Because spoiled Latin girls are in such short supply in his hometown, Matt chases Rebecca to Colombia, agrees to give up his life in Miami and moves to Bogota (because, you know, rich American sons-in-law of military officials are TOTALLY safe in Bogota) and they live happily ever after. Running a dating service that allows American men to meet brides in Colombia and move them AND their housemaids to the US. What a deal.
As is evident by the obvious and obscenely disgusting plot holes, writer/producer/director Tas Salini clearly never took Screenwriting 101. This class states that every scene must do two things: Advance the story and have conflict. About a third of the scenes in the film are completely devoid of conflict and several do nothing to advance the story. The jokes are predictable and corny, some at the expense of American culture. The dialog is overly obvious and leaves nothing to subtlety or the imagination. Lines are not believable and while the actors do their best to make them sound authentic, the serious scenes are almost unwatchable.
The production value is roughly that of a late-night softcore on Cinemax, but lacks the elements of a softcore which make it entertaining. Editing would have helped as the movie looks like a feature-length Film School project from someone who was destined to end up in Law School. Which may be a good idea for Salini, lest he produce anything this bad again.
The film’s lone bright spot is the gay translator who, much like whoever did the subtitles for the film, takes what people say and adds his own twist to it to impress the other side. While some of his gags seem like a desperate attempt to inject humor into an otherwise 4th-grade level of comedy (such as laying on the floor of Matt’s hotel room to translate for him when be brings Rebecca back after their first date) others are more subtle and he is the only part of the movie worth watching.
Perhaps some of the points get lost in translation of the film, although I have seen many Spanish-language films that I found engrossing, original, and occasionally funny. Sadly, “Gringo Wedding” is just a bad movie that happened to be made by an independent foreign filmmaker so it got some attention. Had a Hollywood studio put this out, it would have bombed. And while its limited release will hopefully not result in an encouraging profit for the filmmaker, this movie really should never have been released at all. But I guess cartel money can do a lot of things. Just please don’t slit my throat for writing a bad review.
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