A Day Without a Gay

I remember there was a lot of favorable press leading up to the release of a movie titled A Day Without a Mexican. When it was eventually released, I heard nothing but pans from people who had watched it. I never watched it myself, but I know the premise — what would happen if you all the Mexicans in the country disappeared? It’s a premise rife with the potential for profundity or disaster.

Wedding Wars is essentially A Day Without a Gay. The Advocate, in fact, used the phrase as the headline for a sidebar to a cover story about the movie. What would happen if all the gays in the country went on strike? The profound answer won’t be found in the movie’s plot.

John Stamos plays Shel Grandy, a party planner hired to plan the wedding of his brother Ben (Eric Dane). Ben’s fianceé is Bonnie Sommerville (Maggie Welling), the daughter of a governor (James Brolin). When the governor, who’s seeking re-election, announces he’s against gay marriage. Shel, who’s of course gay, goes on strike. One botched TV news interview later, and Shel sparks a national controversy.

The movie is every bit the made-for-TV fare it is. It’s not terribly offensive, nor is it particularly daring. The acting isn’t bad, but it’s not Emmy material either. The comedy is light and cute, but it doesn’t refract reality. The story’s twists can be seen from quite a distance, and the ending is as happy as it is politically correct.

Wedding Wars was directed by Jim Fall, whose résumé sports such titles as the faux-reality series So NoTORIous and The Lizzie McGuire Movie. If you saw Trick making the rounds of the gay and lesbian film festivals many years back, you know what to expect.

Wedding Wars is entertaining, and it spells out its social commentary for viewers not particularly in tune with nuances of the marriage debate. In short, it’s made for the traditionally older audience the A&E network usually attracts. (A&E premiered the movie in December 2006.)

I sat through it because I wanted to see Sean Maher of Firefly in a gay role. His character turned out to be one of the less likable ones. (He was kind of a pussy, really.)

A comedy about the debate over gay marriage is a bold project to undertake. The issue is one not taken lightly by parties on either side. The only joke I’ve heard that works within this context is the world-weary statement: "Let gay people marry — they should be as miserable as the rest of us."

Wedding Wars seeks to entertain before it educates or persuades, and as a frothy comedy, it does its job. But something more substantial could have come from the premise, and the movie doesn’t tap into that potential.