This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
"Betsy's Wedding" assembles all of the materials for a human comedy, and then seems unconvinced by them. It's the story of a wedding that brings together - in one way or another - three families. The bride's father is in construction. The groom's father is in high finance. And the bride's sister falls in love with the nephew of a Mafia kingpin. The Mafia gets involved after the bride's father goes to his rich brother for a loan to pay for the wedding, and the payback involves hiring the nephew of the brother's Mafioso investor, if you can follow that.
This material could move in a number of directions, toward sitcom, toward satire, even toward a tearjerking slice of life. But Alan Alda, who wrote and directed it and plays the proud father of the bride, prefers to play it mostly straight, and even pedestrian. There have been two movies recently about inter-ethnic romances ("Spike of Bensonhurst" and "True Love") and they were both more alive than this movie, more willing to take chances. "Betsy's Wedding" is awfully safe.
One of the strange things about the movie is that the bride-to-be, played by Molly Ringwald, is a relatively insignificant character in the movie. More screen time is devoted to her sister, Connie (Ally Sheedy), a policewoman who falls in love with Stevie Dee, the Mafioso nephew. He's played by Anthony LaPaglia in a performance that provides the movie's best moments.
He's an earnest, curiously formal young man who wears his hair slicked into a glistening black helmet, and is constantly adjusting the lapels of his suit, perhaps because he carries a gun in a shoulder holster. He first sees Connie, the cop, when she comes to visit her dad on a construction site. Stevie Dee's job on the site is to "observe," at $2,000 a week, but when he observes Connie, all other thoughts fly from his mind, and he can think only of her.