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Confetti

(2006) ** R
100 min. Fox Searchlight Pictures. Director: Debbie Isitt. Cast: Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Jimmy Carr, Alison Steadman, Felicity Montagu.

Confetti, an improvised comedy based on prepared characters and scenarios, ponders what happens when three couples compete to produce the best theme wedding. Though done up in the style of Christopher Guest's Best in Show or A Mighty Wind, Confetti is the weak-tea version, with tepid gags, lazy plotting, and scenarios that are mostly too unpleasant to be funny.

There's promise in a premise that ensures nearly unbearable pressure: Confetti magazine editor Vivien Kaye-Wiley (Felicity Montague) and owner Antoni Clarke (Brit comedy star Jimmy Carr) conspire to boost sales by hosting a wedding competition, on whch they'll build a theme issue. Three unlucky couples make the grade: Matt (Martin Freeman of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and Sam (Jessica Stevenson of Britcom Spaced), whose theme is Hollywood musicals; brusque, tennis-themed Josef (Stephen Mangan) and Isabelle (Meredith MacNeill); and Michael (Robert Webb) and Joanna (Olivia Colman), who commit to "naturism" (a.k.a. nudism).

Debbie Isitt, who conceived and directed the project, goes for the obvious, like a campy pair of gay wedding planners (Vincent Franklin and Jason Watkins). Matt and Sam hold down the most compelling story, but the predictable conflicts over the music (Sam can't sing a lick, and Matt isn't much better) go from routine ridicule to unlikely, feel-good, romanticized sentiment. For all three stories, ninety minutes of evidence prefigure spectacular third-act disasters that never come. Freeman gamely delivers subtle take after subtle take, but we've seen this shtick better used in The Office.

Since Isitt fails to build any suspense, Confetti becomes a scavenger hunt for quality laughs. Pre-marriage counseling? Harsh arguments and sulking don't quite lead to hilarity. Bad Cliff Richard impersonator? Feels like a twenty-year-old gag. The diamonds in the rough (a wedding planner's pledge that he's "prepared to kill or maim" for a couple to get what they want, a facial reorientation for one of the competitors) are too few and far between. Light though it may be, Confetti succumbs to gravity.

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