The reluctant wedding guest is a mainstay of the romcom genre. It’s a trope ripe for dramatic speechifying and dance montages. And in recent years we’ve seen it deployed successfully with films like Plus One and Palm Springs, proving that romcoms in the 2020s are still alive and still boldly asking if a woman can truly have it all: the job, the mascara-stained breakdown, and the guy. But sadly, Netflix’s new release Wedding Season from director Tom Dey (Failure to Launch) did not RSVP to the party.
The film has a hackneyed start: two mothers, played by Veena Sood and Sonia Dhillon Tully, write the dating-with-intention profiles of their two single children, setting them up as gross approximations of people. Asha, played by Pallavi Sharda, according to the profile, is just a “simple girl” and Ravi, Suraj Sharma, is an MIT grad with a successful startup. The two meet under duress, Asha tanks their date purposefully, and they part ways. Only no, they must pretend to be dating to survive the swarms of aunties during a hellish season of community weddings. The weddings themselves are sermons on diversity and acceptance, which the couple sit teary-eyed through. And then, as it always goes, they fall in love.
The third act breakup is shallow. The coming back together expected and easily won. Tension rarely has a moment to mount before it is dissipated with a too-long monologue. The end product is charmless. Rizwan Manji as Asha’s father Vijay is the only bright spot. A consummate comedy actor, his character feels lived in and natural, though Manji is cast much older than he can feasibly play on screen.
Netflix has us pegged – off the success of Indian Matchmaking, this film attempts a romcom treatment of the same. They know we love an Indian wedding, but they also don’t think they need to offer up much more than beautiful gowns and an elephant entrance. The few winking lines about diaspora experience veer between the trite and the genuinely warm.
Wedding Season feels as though it was made by a committee of Netflix executives who passed a screening of Monsoon Wedding on their way to a meeting. Perhaps they’ve put the South Asian tropes (weddings, gossip, aunties, micro-finance loans) into a machine and this is what came out. In which case, I shudder to think what they have in store for us next.