Betsy's Wedding (1990)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jun 22, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

Perennial good guy Alan Alda wrote, directed, and starred in this big-hearted family comedy, which, despite great casting and the reunion of Brat Packers Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, suffers a bit from its overly familiar situations and too-genial view of human nature. Ringwald has fun skewering her thrift-store image as Betsy, a fashion student whose ideas tend toward dramatic cross-pollination, but viewers expecting to see the actress update her outsider role from Sixteen Candles will be disappointed to see her play Betsy like any other self-centered bride. Sheedy, meanwhile, gets stuck in a role that's like one big bad-hair day and that barely strays from her low-self-esteem screen persona. Alda and the great Madeline Kahn make a believable screen couple, but Joe Pesci, per usual, overplays, leaving believable (and funny) family dynamics in the hands of character vets such as Joey Bishop, Bibi Besch, Nicolas Coster, and Julie Bovasso. Loose ends, of course, get wrapped up in due course, and middle-class goodness prevails, but the characters only really seem believable when they're doing something nastily out of the ordinarily, as when Catherine O'Hara, playing the Pesci character's long-suffering wife, buys up properties her slumlord hubby longs to purchase and charges him huge markups under an assumed name. If any of the other characters showed such recognizably perverse human characteristics, maybe Betsy's Wedding wouldn't feel like such an amusing trifle.