CONFETTI smacks of a shameless cash-in on the back of the recent success of TV mockumentaries such as The Office and Nighty Night, and the more long-lived hackneyed schmaltz purveyed by Richard Curtis. This mish-mash of genres should be clear from the following short description of the "concept" of the film: a fictional British wedding magazine called Confetti is running a competition for its readers. Three short-listed couples are competing to stage the most original weddings they can imagine, followed by the film-crew that is producing this film. We get to see the run-up to the wedding day, the three weddings themselves and the aftermath of the contest.
Where the movie gets it right is in showing the hoop-la that surrounds a big wedding, and the way in which a couple can be forced into doing all sorts of stuff that they don't want to do. And, thanks to the lovely acting, especially from Martin Freeman and Stephen Mangan, I did find myself rooting for all the couples and being strangely moved by the wedding ceremonies themselves. In other words, the Richard Curtiss fans probably won't be too disappointed.
However, if CONFETTI succeeds in being "sweet" it fails in its mission to make us laugh. The main problem is that the improvised script is distinctly short on laughs - whether subtle and observational or just plain slapstick. It is not hard to see where the film-makers have gone wrong. Why oh why dispense with a scriptwriter? Just because an actor can act well does not mean he can write his own material too. Ricky Gervais and Larry David are the exceptions, not the rule.
Another big fat problem is that the film completely fails as a mockumentary along the lines of This is Spinal Tap or The Office. These films work because the film-makers successfully create the illusion that they are genuinely photographing something that is actually happening. How do they do this? First, they use only the camera angles and shooting styles that would be available to a documentary crew. In The Office this is done to great effect - we are forever looking through windows, or around corners to catch characters doing things they would rather not see on tape. Most obviously, in the case of The Office, we never follow the characters home, or see them DELIBERATELY reveal a side of themselves that they would choose to keep hidden. The humour derives from the unconscious and unintended revelations of insecurity or arrogance. But in CONFETTI, the film-makers break all these rules again and again. So while we do have the straight-to-camera interviews and the hand-held camera observational shots, we also have a bunch of footage that couldn't possibly have been filmed had this been a real documentary. The most obvious error is including a lot of intimate scenes between various couples in their respective bedrooms. But we also get a lot of straightforwardly filmed shots that should have been shot in a voyeuristic, sneaky manner.
Like I said, CONFETTI may be "sweet" on occasion, but it fails in its central mission to make us laugh. With the benefit of hindsight, the only mild humour is derived from one of the opening credits, which informs us that Confetti is A Wasted Talent Production. Never a truer word said. Indeed, there is a sort of achievement in casting Martin Freeman, Jimmy Carr, Julia Davis and Alison Steadman in a film that DOESN'T make us laugh. However, it is not the kind of achievement you want to spend ten squid on seeing.
CONFETTI is on general release in the UK. It hits Australia with a damp thud on June 22nd 2006, squelches into Germany on September 7th 2006 and finally thumbs its nose at France on October 11th.