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Polish Wedding

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Polish Wedding

Starring: Claire Danes, Lena Olin
Director: Jerry Crampton
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: July 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Gabriel Byrne, Mio Takaki, Daniel Lapaine, Mili Avital, Philippe Leroy

Reviewer Roundup
1.  MrBrown review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Susan Granger read the review movie review
3.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by MrBrown
1½ stars out of 4

In this year's summer movie preview issue of _Entertainment_Weekly_, Theresa Connelly described her writing-directing debut, _Polish_Wedding_, as "a child that did not quite become the child I thought it would." One wonders what exactly she originally had in mind for this jumbled film, a comedy-drama that appears doomed at its most basic elements.

The family at the center of _Polish_Wedding_ is the Pzoniaks, which consists of mother Jadzia (Lena Olin), father Bolek (Gabriel Byrne), sole daughter Hala (Claire Danes) and four sons of varying degrees of facelessness. It's a large family, but there's not a sympathetic one in the whole bunch, certainly not in the primary trio. Jadzia takes pride in building and maintaining a home and family, but she's kind of a hypocrite since she's carrying on an affair with a businessman Rade Serbedzija). Her excuse for her affair is neglect from Bolek, who is such a passive wimp that one cannot connect with his sadness and frustration. Also, how could he possibly pay so little attention to the saucy, sexy Jadzia? Hala is a spoiled, self-centered high school dropout whose reckless sexual experimentation predictably leads to pregnancy.

With such an unappealing set of characters, it's no surprise that _Polish_Wedding_'s plot complications are far from involving. Naturally, Jadzia and Bolek would like Hala to marry the young cop, Russell Schuster (Adam Trese), who fathered the child, but he refuses to make such a commitment. Ho-hum. Another complication, involving the decidedly un-virginal Hala being selected to crown a statue of the Virgin Mary, is first played for laughs and then, inexplicably, as a Profound Statement in the film's climax--which, ironically, is funnier than any of the film's lame attempts at humor, such as a painfully labored slapstick attempt where Jadzia leads her sons in a charge to beat up Russell.

That scene is but one in a number of writing miscues by Connelly. The Jadzia-Bolek conflict is resolved in an overly pat way not unfamiliar to sitcom viewers. The Hala-Russell conflict isn't resolved in as contrived a manner, but their ultimate resolution will leave viewers wondering if they had missed something. And then there's some atrocious dialogue, which I am sure was not supposed to be as ridiculous as they sound: "Look at all these pickles. Just looking at them gives me such great sadness."

As misguided as _Polish_Wedding_ is, the affair is something of a letdown, considering the strong performances by Byrne, Danes, and especially the fiery Olin. They obviously believed in Connelly and her material--a faith that audiences will be hard-pressed to share.

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