|Director Barbara Wong gets some cred back with Perfect Wedding, a completely obvious product from those masters of populist entertainment TVB. The television monopoly produces this commercial film that’s really only a shade above average, and yet qualifies as a success thanks to its undemanding genre and lack of pretension. Prior to Perfect Wedding, pretension or the assumption of greater meaning was really one of Barbara Wong’s biggest problems. Has she gratefully changed her ways? Who really knows? At least the movie is entertaining and innocuous. That is, if you can ignore its bewildering admiration for Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. Yes, you read that correctly.
Miriam Yeung stars as Yan, who engages in a torrid one night stand with the dashing Fung (Raymond Lam) after spying him reading The Lost Symbol. They express their gushing and frankly misplaced admiration for author Dan Brown before getting it on but the next morning they cross paths anyway. She’s a wedding planner and he’s a civil celebrant – the guy who oversees the nuptials – and he somehow gets assigned to her latest opulent gig. Before long, he’s stuck in her office where he has to fulfill 30 ceremonies before finally working for some other wedding planner. Naturally, sparks fly between the two but Yan is far too cynical about love to really give in to the younger man’s charms. Can Fung sway Yan or will he turn his attention to buxom Flora (Chrissie Chau) instead?
Due to the genre, plot surprises are not on offer. This is a formulaic romcom with a familiar script, canned platitudes and an abundance of brand name product placement. However, Barbara Wong manages to develop her characters onscreen and not just through dialogue, making for some good interplay between her lead characters. Wong has some fine stars to help her; it's not her finest hour, but Miriam Yeung has personality to spare, and Raymond Lam pours on the studly, sensitive charm as the too-nice dude who wants to publicly announce his relationship with his boss, instead of simply pretending its not going on. In an amusing change-up, Yeung plays the cynical, domineering partner while Lam is the submissive, sensitive lover who's looking for affirmation. It's a dynamic that may turn off the guys who cheer at The Expendables, but romcom fans? They'll eat it up. It helps that Raymond Lam's fans are mostly female.
The negatives? How about trying to make us believe that Raymond Lam would be threatened by Eric Kot? The former Feel 100% partner of Ekin Cheng shows up as a photographer who jilted Yan at the altar, and the film actually tries to sell the idea that a squeaky-voiced bohemian would stand a chance against a guy who looks like Raymond Lam. In another likely selling point for the target audience, Fung is essentially presented as the greatest guy ever. He's handsome, sensitive, playful and romantic, and he won't even be tempted by the willing Flora, who shoves her bra-clad goodies in his face in an attempted seduction scene. Then again, Chrissie Chau displays little acting range or character, so anyone who actually cares for personality – which Fung is supposed to – would clearly choose Yan over the well-endowed Flora. At least, that's what Perfect Wedding supposes.
Other things supposed by this middle-upper-class urban fantasy: that Yan's gal pals – played by Teresa Mo, Kate Tsui, Bernice Liu and Oceane Zhu in a thinly-veiled Sex and the City homage – aren't insufferable. The actresses overact egregiously but thankfully receive little focus besides your standard Greek chorus duty. In fact, few characters get much focus outside of Yan and Fung. Outside of some minor wedding subplots, the film manages to stick to its one major storyline, concentrating on only two characters instead of dividing focus among the entire peanut gallery. Lawrence Cheng's story deserves some credit – it doesn't try to do too much with its abundance of stars (or the large library of actors that comes with its TVB backing) resulting in something that's remarkably consistent if not ground-breakingly enjoyable.
Pretty much all of Barbara Wong's films prior to Perfect Wedding were comedy-dramas, and while Wong handled the comedy decently in those films, the drama would usually become mired in overdone self-importance. Perfect Wedding is a romantic comedy, meaning attempted laughs and only a perfunctory hint of drama. That gives Wong fewer chances of slipping up, and she capitalizes, delivering her most agreeable movie since likely her debut. Perfect Wedding is unimpressive fluff but it does its duty smoothly without calling attention to itself – which is something that most Hong Kong filmmakers should learn how to do.
But seriously - Dan Brown? Do people really meet in bars and hop in the sack because of a shared admiration of Dan Brown? To some people, somewhere, this must qualify as a sign of the Apocalypse. (Kozo 2010)