Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online since 2004.
What's the big deal?
Confetti is a romantic comedy mockumentary film released in 2006 which was written and directed by Debbie Isitt. The film depicts a competition ran by fictional bridal magazine Confetti for the most original themed wedding and follows three couples in their attempts to win the top prize. It stars Martin Freeman, Jessica Hynes, Jimmy Carr, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Olivia Colman and Robert Webb. The film was produced without a script and was mostly improvised by the cast on-set. Reactions to the film from critics was fairly mixed and it struggled to a meagre box office total of just $4.9 million worldwide. The film was later heavily criticised by stars Colman and Webb due to the heavy use of nudity that they were led to believe would be censored for the final release.
What's it about?
UK bridal magazine Confetti, owned by pompous Antoni Clarke and edited by the somewhat stuffy Vivienne, decide to host a competition for the best themed wedding ceremony with the top prize being a home for the newly weds and a front cover photo shoot. Three couples are chosen to battle for the top spot but unfortunately, each comes with their own set of problems. Sam and Matt decide to honour their appreciation of classic Hollywood musicals with a musically themed wedding, despite the fact that neither of them have any real degree of musical talent. Former tennis professional Josef and his equally competitive fiancé Isabelle are determined to triumph with their tennis-themed ceremony although the relationship itself seems to suffer under pressure. And while enthusiastic nudists Joanna and Michael are happy to have their naturist wedding completely naked, Confetti might have a problem putting naked people on the front cover of their magazine.
With each couple guided and assisted by camp wedding planners and lovers Gregory and Archie, the course of celebrating true love rarely runs smoothly. Rehearsals for Sam and Matt's big day are upstaged by Sam's attention-hungry sister while Josef and Isabelle's financial difficulties put added pressure on the couple to win, causing increasingly wide rifts between the two of them. Meanwhile, Vivienne and Michael have heated arguments about the photoshoot if they manage to win while Joanna has doubts of her own about showing her body off in public...
5th May, 2006
Comedy, Musical, Romance
What's to like?
Given that watching Confetti is about as enjoyable as arranging an actual wedding, whatever meagre joys are to be found in the film are few and far between. It's not the fault of the cast who work hard to generate the odd laugh here and there despite the total absence of a script. This means that each cast member is simply making it up on the spot and while this helps the film maintain a realistic feel, it does separate those able to improvise (such as comedians like Carr) from comic actors like Mangan who never really convinces. In truth, the only characters I actually identified with were the most normal - Sam and Matt may have delusions of grandeur regarding their abilities but compared to the rest, their issues seem positively trivial. The most sympathetic are the two gay wedding planners who have the best lines but they feel like underwritten stereotypes, primarily because that's exactly what they are.
There aren't many scenes which stick long in the memory beyond the climatic competition itself, featuring three wedding ceremonies one after the other. I'm not sure about you but I find watching videos of other people's wedding rather tiresome. So watching three back-to-back felt anti-climatic and it slows the film's pace down even further, grinding to a halt as we watch these weirdos have their dream day. I suppose there is some mild tension in working out who the winners will be but to be honest, I wasn't particularly invested or surprised by the outcome.
- Scenes set at the fictional naturist colony Summerland were actually shot at a real naturist resort in the UK. Spielplatz (German for playground) is based in the Hertfordshire village of Bricket Wood and was founded in 1929 by Charles Macaskie and his wife Dorothy. It remains the longest-operating naturist resort in the UK.
- According to Webb, he and Colman were told by the producers that the nudity on screen would be pixelated and only found out that it wasn't at a screening for the cast. Both Webb and Colman have heavily criticised the film and the filmmakers in the years since with Colman especially calling the film "a f***ing turkey" and "the worst experience of my life".
- Confetti was the first film directed by Isitt since her feature film debut in 1999. She would subsequently write and direct the festive film Nativity! and its three sequels to date, the first of which also starred Freeman, Watkins and Marc Wootton.
What's not to like?
The film clearly aspires to other, far more successful, semi-improvised documentary-style comedies like This Is Spinal Tap or any of Christopher Guest's more inspired films which follow a similar template. But this is an embarrassing mess of a movie, wasting the talents of its cast by offering no help at all in creating realistic characters or telling an engaging story. We don't care about anyone we see on screen and if anyone does have the fortune to produce a funny line of dialogue, there is a good chance that someone else is ruining it by talking over it. The improvisation works in creating a free-flowing and realistic vibe but it isn't the best format for creating a memorable comedy. The film badly needed some sort of structure and it just isn't there. As a TV sit-com, it could work - more time could be spent with the characters and it could flourish in the way The Office did.
So with no real story or narrative behind it, the film flounders in what feels like a flurry of awkward silences and exploitative nudity (which truly leaves a nasty taste in the mouth when you learn how the actors were betrayed by the filmmakers) before the over-long and uninterested finale. Confetti is a tragic waste of time for everyone involved, especially you as the viewer. You just can't shove actors in front of a camera and expect magic and if Isitt honestly thought that's how you make a film such as this then her ignorance is her downfall. I'd rather do a best man's speech for someone I'd never met than watch this turgid comedy again.
Should I watch it?
Unless you are as crazy as any of the couples in this sorry excuse for a comedy, Confetti should be treated in the same way as your drunk, lecherous uncle - avoided at all costs. Despite the efforts from the cast, the film is a spineless imitation of far more enjoyable fare than this and isn't even worth watching if you're planning your own wedding. Films like this get me frustrated with the British film industry because there is no inspiration, drive or focus to make this even a halfway decent comedy instead of the cringefest it is.
Great For: morons, perverts, emptying cinemas
Not So Great For: comedy fans, Robert Webb and Olivia Colman, critics who gave this film a positive review - you should be ashamed of yourselves!
What else should I watch?
Thankfully, Isitt has kept a pretty low profile since this film with occasional sequels to her most popular film Nativity! which follows a worryingly similar premise to Confetti. Freeman plays a primary school teacher who finds himself pitched into a battle with a rival school to produce the best Christmas nativity play in front of prospective Hollywood agents looking to make a film. Although it is still improvised by the cast, Isitt at least provided a brief structure that allowed the cast to steer the film in the direction she wanted. There's a good chance that this fixes many of this film's problems and judging by the fact that a fourth film, Nativity Rocks!, was released in 2018, it seems to have found an audience. I'm happy for them because frankly, it's not on my radar after this.
I mentioned Guest earlier in this article as he is heavily associated with mockumentaries after his career-defining appearance as Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap. Using a cast who improvise directly in front of the camera in the same way, he has achieved far more success with Spinal Tap and subsequent films like Best In Show and A Mighty Wind. Other films you might like to look at include the animated mockumentary Surf's Up or either of Sacha Baron Cohen's outings as fictional Kazakh reporter Borat. The original Borat (or to give it its full title, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) was a controversial but hugely popular film that brought the character to international attention while last years' Borat Subsequent Moviefilm demonstrated that the character remained not just relevant but also funny as he poked fun at the Trump regime in its dying months.
© 2021 Benjamin Cox