Hulu’s ‘Four Weddings’ Performs CPR on the Rom-Com. Thanks, Mindy!
Rom-com alert! Rom-com alert!
At a time when you’re more likely to find a silent film than a good romantic comedy at the movies, Hulu has stepped into the void with Four Weddings and a Funeral, which debuts Wednesday.
Yes, with a tad of irony, this series is an extended adaptation of a theatrical film — released in 1994 with an star-studded cast headed by Hugh Grant. Being that a quarter century has passed, the cast has changed. The show remains equally fresh and endearing.
Quite delightful, in fact.
It must also be noted up front that this incarnation of Four Weddings and a Funeral, created and largely written by Mindy Kaling, doesn’t owe any more to the original film than it owes to Love, Actually, another gem from the bygone days of movie rom-coms.
From the swelling chorus of “Love Is All Around” in the opening scene, Four Weddings plays repeated homage to Love, Actually.
That’s not a bad thing.
The plot echoes Love, Actually in that is follows the tangled love lives of multiple individuals, a few obnoxious but mostly sympathetic.
The specific setup, however, does hew closely to the original Four Weddings. Enormously likeable American girl Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel) flies over to London for the wedding of her long-time best friend Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse), an occasion that soon morphs into a more general reunion of their old college posse.
While that inevitable confluence produces awkward and heartwarming moments, the drama expands geometrically after the insertion of several new wild cards.
That includes Gemma (Zoe Boyle), whose sole mission seems to be supplanting Maya in Ainsley’s affection.
Her mission will evolve, however, while in the broader sweep of the series the most critical new wild card turns out to be Ainsley’s fiancé Kash (Nikesh Patel), a handsome and quite likeable Pakistani.
He’s an investment banker who hates investment banking and does it because it pleases his father Haroon (Harish Patel). So that’s one secret. He also has a second secret, which has the potential to change multiple lives and relationships, mostly not in a smooth way.
So the first key decision in Four Weddings falls on Kash, and while his life has been defined by taking the easy way, Four Weddings has a lot more dramatic potential if he takes a different tack here.
Nor are Kash, Gemma, Maya and Ainsley the whole story.
We also have Duffy (John Paul Reynolds, best known lately for his role in Stranger Things). Duffy is an introvert who for years has been silently nursing an overpowering affection for Maya and has never mentioned it to her.
Should he decide the wedding gathering may be his last chance to do so, it could put Maya at the center of another relationship drama. Since her last one ended with the equivalent of a refrigerator falling on her, this may not be her first choice.
Conversely, it may not be her choice at all. This is a rom-com, folks. That’s how it rolls.
Then we’ve got Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith), a handsome devil who knows he’s a handsome devil. He’s another college friend of Maya’s — just a pal, in this case — and he swears that he’s ready to stop playing the field and settle down. Then it turns out there’s a loose end from his playing-the-field days, so he’s got complications, too.
In fact, as all this suggests, everyone in Four Weddings and a Funeral has complications. Just the way we like it.
So let the word go forth: Rom-com fans can fire up the popcorn, settle in on the couch and let Four Weddings and a Funeral transport them in style back to the golden age.
[The first four episodes roll out on Wednesday, with the rest then being released weekly.]