BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
Uh oh. Charles (Hugh Grant), the best man in wedding No. 1, forgot the rings. (Frame shots courtesy of Shout! Factory)
“FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION”
Blu-ray; 1994; R for language and some sexuality
Best extra: Only new bonus on the Shout! Factory disc: ‘The Wedding
Photographer’ – ‘An Interview with Director of Photography Michael Coulter’
DURING THE filming of “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” no one imagined it would eventually receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Shot in about six weeks on a shoestring budget of $4.4 million, this dram-rom-com grossed $254.7 million worldwide. Quite a return and accolades, also winning the British (BAFTA) version of the Oscars for Best Film, Best Actress for Kristin Scott Thomas and Best Actor for Hugh Grant.
Not only did audiences fall in love with this quirky British movie, millions also fell in love with leading man Hugh Grant, who played Charles. Grant’s career skyrocketed after this movie and the offers poured in. As he said in one of the dated bonus features, when he got offered $1 million for a role he eventually turned down, he knew he had made it.
As for the plot, check out the title. Charles always seems to be the best man, an usher or a wedding attendant and never the groom at his myriad friends’ weddings. But meeting an American, Carrie (Andie MacDowell), at the movie’s first wedding, between Angus and Laura, makes Charles reconsider his bachelor ways.
Charles finally speaks to the American, Carrie (Andie MacDowell), who he admired from the minute she walked in the church.
By the fourth wedding, Charles is at the altar, but is it to the woman he truly loves or a second-string bride? For the younger generation who might not be familiar with this flick, watch it and find out. For those of us lucky enough to have seen it 25 years ago in the theaters (or on VHS, DVD or on cable), it’s satisfying to relive the movie’s events and the actors who made the flick memorable, including Rowan Atkinson (“Mr. Bean”), Kristin Scott Thomas, Simon Callow, John Hannah and Anna Chancellor.
Thanks to Shout! Factory for giving this your Shout Select premium imprint – a new 4K scan from the original camera negative. Natural film grain dances across the screen, while the sharpness is excellent, and the colors are saturated within the normal range for a downconverted HD source.
And, another cheer for giving us at least one new 25-year-anniversary bonus feature with Director of Photography Michael Coulter or, as his friends call him, “Mick.” Coulter tells the story of his career starting in documentaries in the 1970’s to working for Director Bill Forsyth in “Gregory’s Girl” in 1980. He eventually became friends with Director Mike Newell, which eventually led to his job on “Four Weddings,” and subsequently many more hits. Those included “Notting Hill” (which starred Grant and was written by Richard Curtis, who penned “Four Weddings”) and “Sense and Sensibility” (also starring Grant).
Gareth succumbs to a heart attack after dancing Scottish jigs during wedding No. 3. Matthew gives a moving eulogy at the funeral.
Coulter describes how a director of photography must work with every department on a film, from the actors to the electricians. He tells us about lighting the churches that were part of the four weddings, working with 150-200 extras and about Newell’s ability to work well with actors since his wife is British actress Bernice Stegers (2012’s “Great Expectations”).
He also talks about being honored to be nominated for a British Society of Cinematography in 1994 for his work in “Four Weddings and Funeral” (and the next year for “Sense and Sensibility”).
Unfortunately, all other extras are old. They include: audio commentary with Newell, producer Duncan Kenworthy and writer/co-executive producer Curtis; “The Wedding Planners” documentary; “’Four Weddings and a Funeral’ … in the Making” featurette; “Two Actors and a Director” featurette; deleted scenes, promotional spots and a theatrical trailer. The promo spots never were aired but should have been. Each has Grant and MacDowell explaining the movie as they walk and talk together. MacDowell can’t remember Grant’s name. It’s quite funny.
For those who are huge fans, you recently got a treat if you saw, “One Red Nose and a Wedding,” a TV short aired in mid-May supporting the annual Red-Nose Day. This was written by Red Nose co-founder and Four Weddings writer, Curtis. Most of the movie’s original actors make an appearance and Charles and Carrie are adorable all these years later. And, the wedding is amazing. This short never would have happened if that “little movie that could” didn’t make it up the box office mountain.
- Toni Guagenti