"Wedding Palace" bills itself as the first-ever Asian-American romantic comedy. But it's so chock full of the usual clichés and conventions of the genre, it could have been any movie over the past 20 years that you've seen and then promptly forgotten that starred Julia Roberts. Or Kate Hudson. Or Jennifer Aniston. Or Renee Zellweger.
The first feature from writer-director-producer Christine Yoo begins with a runaway bride and ends with a mad dash to the airport for some last-minute I-love-yous. In between, Yoo finds room for all of the obligatory bad first dates and fantasy sequences, montages and misunderstandings, a wisecracking best friend and overbearing parents. It doesn't appear that she means any of this ironically, or as parody.
There is one big twist about two-thirds into the film which evidences clever thought and provides genuine surprise. And "Wedding Palace" does offer a glimpse into Korean traditions which perhaps aren't familiar to viewers from other cultures. And good for Yoo, as a rare Asian-American, female filmmaker, for taking a chance and raising the money and working to pull this all together. It would be great to be able to recommend this kind of scrappy, low-budget filmmaking.
But none of these elements is enough to make this broad, shrill, unfunny romp tolerable.