Jenny is a closeted lesbian middle-class social worker who seems to be in no hurry to ‘come out’ to her conservative Christian parents. She is content enough to go along with her family’s limited imagination as to why she has never ever taken a ‘date’ home in all these years. Her two siblings are married and are starting their own families to whom she is a mere spectator.
One night when chewing the fat alone with her father whilst he smokes a sly cigarette in the yard, he does such a great job of extolling the joys of marriage that she immediately rushes home to her girlfriend and very matter-of-fact announces that she has decided that they are going to get married. It will probably qualify as one of the most unromantic ‘proposals’ in movie history, but then again whilst Jenny can passionately give some speechy speeches, she is actually quite a cold fish.
By the time she actually gets to ‘come out’ to her parents we are midway through the story so we know exactly how they are going to act almost to the T. They are not so much upset by the knowledge that Jenny is a lesbian, but more the fact that she had lied to them all these years about who she really was. In this rather cliche ridden plot her parents then wavered between ‘what did we do wrong?’ to ‘how can you do this to us? Jenny however feels so empowered by finally telling them that she immediately goes from years of claiming she had been silent so as not to hurt them at all, to now riding rough shod when they do not immediately embrace her new plans with enthusiasm.
Jenny wants to get married in a big white dress at a lavish ceremony with all the trimmings that her siblings had. She tells her parents that is her way or no way, and demands that they get onboard. There is no subtlety in the rigid stance that she takes and all their anger and concern is not really about how they all feel about each other, but more about how others will perceive them now.
Asides from the occasional kiss between Jenny and her mild-manner compliant fiance, there was no sign of any real affection or any mention of love, or a single trace of chemistry between the two women which gave the whole affair such a hollow ring to it.
The movie, the second one directed by screenwriter Mary Agnes Donoghue (screenwriter ‘Beeches’) is a vehicle for actress Katherine Heigl who’s once highly-flying movie career has been in the doldrums since her last few films have bombed, and her TV series ‘State of Angels’ has been cancelled. If this was meant to revive things for her. then her is going to be very disappointed. Whilst gay marriage may be a hot button topic right now, it simply doesn’t mean that every movie embraces the topic makes it its central theme will be well-received purely in principle. The leadened script seemed at times like it was written years ago and although it takes into account the change in the law its stance on attitudes towards homosexuality are so moribund in the past.
Heigl played it with the exact same irritation as her role in the ’28 Bridesmaids Dresses‘ movie when it looked like she may never get her own way even though the outcome in both movies was so entirely predictable. Sympathy though for Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond, both exceedingly talented actors, who were so ill-served with the script for their parts as Jenny’s parents. Shout out too for Grace Gummer for her performance as Jenny’s sister and who was not put-off by the secondary plot strand about her own marriage which went nowhere.
Jenny reacted with her parents as if they were bible-thumping right-wing fundamentalists instead of the mildly conservative very-ordinary middle-class family that the really were. Her misplaced melodrama and the rather loud invasive soundtrack that accompanied it, would have been much better suited to Lifetime TV and not here on the big screen where we expect and deserve better.