Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 14, 2021)
If you take one look at the cover of 2020’s Love, Weddings & Other Disasters, you may exclaim “oh, Nancy Meyers is back!” However, the filmmaker behind “chick flicks” like and Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated played no part in this movie’s creation.
Instead, we find actor-turned-director Dennis Dugan at the helm of Disasters. That would be the same Dennis Dugan known for his association with Adam Sandler via flicks like Grown Ups and Happy Gilmore.
Dugan goes full rom-com here, as we follow the romantic travails of various characters. We meet Jessie (Maggie Grace), a wedding planner who gets the unfortunate reputation as the “wedding trasher” when she accidentally disrupts a marriage ceremony due to a skydiving mishap.
Tour bus guide Ritchie (Andrew Bachelor) uses his job to meet women, all in the hopes he’ll eventually land his own true love. He obsesses over a cutie he calls “Cinderella” because of her glass slipper tattoo.
Curmudgeonly celebrity caterer Lawrence (Jeremy Irons) goes through a blind date with Sara (Diane Keaton) that comes with its own issues. We find a few others as well, and we see the intersections of these folks along the way.
Though I alluded to the Nancy Meyers filmography earlier, Disasters demonstrates one overriding apparent influence: 2003’s Love Actually. Both offer multiple characters as they navigate the muddy waters of romance.
Actually became a box office hit worldwide and now seems regarded as something of a classic. I doubt anyone will remember Disasters exists a year from now.
I do respect Dugan’s attempt to branch out from his Sandler-centric filmography, though. He last made a Sandler-free movie via 2003’s National Security. (2006’s Benchwarmers didn’t feature Sandler, but it came from his production company so it falls under that umbrella.)
That said, I’d appreciate Dugan’s stabs away from the broad Sandler style of comedy more if Disasters offered an actual good movie. Instead, Dugan creates a poor example of the romantic comedy genre that brings nothing new or interesting to the table.
Disasters does enjoy a pretty good cast, especially with two Oscar winners involved. This becomes the first time Keaton and Irons worked together, and they seem horribly overqualified for the project.
Keaton plays a blind woman set up on a blind date, and that tells you about everything you need to know about the intelligence level on display here. In others words, smart, clever material remains in short supply, as Disasters opts for cheap, predictable gags and situations from start to finish.
The decision to include so many different characters turns into a total albatross. Even in the hands of a talented filmmaker, it would become difficult to balance the roles and develop them in a satisfactory manner.
Inevitably, Disasters favors some more than others, with the Lawrence/Sara and Jessie tales at the fore. Despite Bachelor’s presence on the cover art, Ritchie plays a surprisingly small part here, and others seem no more prominent.
Really, Disasters should’ve just picked one character as the focus and left it at that. With a mere 96 minutes at its disposal, it spreads itself awfully thin in its attempts to cover so many roles, and as a result, none of them become anything more than thin clichés.
This leaves Disasters as little more than a loose collection of comedy sketches linked together by a theme – and connected in a poor manner, as we find next to no amusement at any point. I’ve seen worse rom-coms, but that remains faint praise.