‘Sister of the Groom’ a rom-com gem

“Sister of the Groom”
Rated R. On Digital and On Demand.
Grade: B plus
Are you ready for a feel-good wedding film, featuring a star-reborn turn by Alicia Silverstone, a fine supporting cast and smart writing and direction from newcomer Amy Miller Gross? Meet married with kids couple Audrey (Silverstone) and Ethan (Tom Everett Scott). He’s about to have his business’ funding taken away. She’s a wannabe architect who left school, got married to a “nice Jewish boy” and became a mother of 10-year-olds, who are away at camp. Her post-pregnancy stomach is a disaster, and she and her husband have hardly had sex since the death of her beloved mother two years earlier. Audrey wishes her mother had pushed her harder. She and Ethan are on their way in late July to the destination wedding in the Hamptons of Audrey’s younger brother Liam (a very good Jake Hoffman). An architect, he’s marrying Clemence (Mathilde Ollivier), a “hot” Jewish French neo-flower girl, who likes to be the center of attention and takes an instant dislike to Audrey.
The feeling is mutual, especially since Liam has given Clemence his and Audrey’s mother’s ring and Clemence has an entourage of friends and family, including her guitar-playing producer and her actor father Philibert (a marvelous Ronald Guttman), who once starred in a French comedy TV show called “Gag Courant.” Audrey seems too emotional and needy at first. When she learns that her brother and his new wife plan to raze their family home and build something new for themselves, she’s apoplectic. But Silverstone soon has you on her side, especially as she loosens up. Did I mention that Liam and Clemence have invited Audrey’s ex Isaac (Charlie Bewley), a handsome architect from the UK, who isn’t over Audrey to the wedding without telling her?
“Sister of the Groom” is like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Crazy Rich Asians” with well-off East Coast Jews instead of middle-class Greeks or rich Asians. Signs of wealth and privilege abound, although Audrey’s father (the late Mark Blum of TV’s “Law & Order”) is not as flush as he used to be. The film’s action is introduced by a series of invitations to the multi-day events. There is a packed swimming pool, plenty of food, drink, singing, dancing, water skiing, a vintage convertible and micro-doses of MDMA, n’est-ce pas. Who’s going to stand beneath the chuppa with the bride and groom? Pass the knishes and watch. Silverstone, who is also the film’s executive producer, helps to turn “Sister of the Groom” into a complete sleeper, a film that just needs some word of mouth to make it a VOD sensation. Scott reminds us why we have always liked him. Hoffman has a little-brother-with-a-mind-of-his-own vibe that is totally relatable. Ollivier is the hardest to warm up to because she is the beautiful French villain of the piece to begin with. We want her burned at the stake for what she does to Audrey. But writer-director Gross even makes us fall in love with Clemence. Silverstone and Gross make a wonderful team. Are they the Patti Jenkins and Gal Gadot of rom-coms? Can they do it again, please?
(“Sister of the Groom” contains drug use, sexual activity and nudity)

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