Sing Now or Forever Hold Your
Mid-life crisis hits hard on Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace. In
the movie, a bunch of college friends try hard to deal with life and their
age fifteen years after graduation.
These guys are still living in the past. Of course, these glory days are
not exactly what most people would define as glorious. After all, these
guys' triumphant past was in school when they were big stars on campus as
a capella vocal group.
of us watching are thinking: What? Did they still have vocal groups in
1991? In the era of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” did anyone buy into these
course they are supposed to be a hip ensemble – they don’t do “Danny Boy” or
“By the Light of the Silvery Moon.” They generally (but not always) perform
more modern music. Still: hip is in the eye of
the beholder. In this film, we hear vocal arrangements of songs by the
likes of Phil Collins, John Mayer and Devo (covering Lee Dorsey.) Good
tunes, mostly – granted – but hardly cutting edge stuff.
audience is put in the weird position of basically liking the guys
but not quite understanding what all the navel-gazing is about.
The Big Chill often
and taken notes. He does a not-bad job of updating that classic story
Writer/Director Bruce Leddy had obviously seen Perhaps
there is even a certain karmic payback to "borrowing" from The Big Chill,
as that film was just a glossier Hollywood version of a then-recent John
Sayles indie called The Return of the Secaucus Seven.
Sing Now is more blatantly trying to be comic but strangely is
not nearly as funny as Chill – which benefited from
a more natural
camaraderie and a sense of not having to try so hard.
Instead of a funeral for a friend, here it is the wedding of an old college
chum which sparks this reunion. (Although reunion may be a bit of a
stretch: it appears that with the exception of a friend who has moved to Los
Angeles, they all have been seeing each other pretty regularly.)
old chum (Mark Feuerstein) asks the guys to regroup to sing at his wedding.
(How cheap is that? An a capella group at a wedding? How about a band or
DJ, guy?) This return to their vocal glory days has the guys all trying to
figure out where they have gone with their lives since college; all the
while staying at the richest of their group’s family compound in the
of the characters from The Big Chill literally have counterpoints
here. The Kevin Kline/Glenn Close duo of the couple who is still in love
after all these years is played here by
and Rosemarie DeWitt (Standoff).
DeWitt in particular is terrific as a wife trying to pull her husband out of
a weird arrested development.
In the Jeff
Goldblum role of lonely guy in a slimy job is Reg Rogers – actually very
funny as a recently divorced lawyer who has reached three digits in days
since sex. There is the single-and-handsome-but-slightly-disturbed
friend (Chris Bauer) turning William Hurt’s character from a drug addicted
war veteran into a more basically eccentric type – this guy walks the
streets of New York dressed as death.
the Tom Berenger-role of the friend who has gone Hollywood is David Alan
Basche. There is even the Meg Tilly-type younger girl (Camilla Thorsson)
who is just around to laugh at the ridiculous old guys and fuel their sexual
fantasies. (Oh, yeah, and eventually sleep with one of them…)
Finally there is the JoBeth Williams/Don Galloway tandem of the unhappily
married, totally incompatible couple, here played by Alexander Chaplin (of
– nice to see him
again, even in a nothing role like this) and SNL alumni Molly
Shannon. The film spends way too much time on these two, because frankly,
we agree when he says that they shouldn’t be together.
It doesn’t help that
they are by far the two most annoying characters. He’s an uptight prude.
She’s a big-mouthed, emasculating, goofy bitch. Part of the bigger problem
with this character is that
Shannon seems to be acting in a totally different film than the
rest of the very capable cast – they are trying to be serious and she’s
trying to do a Superstar skit. It gets really grating.
Before the slightly awkward title that the film now sports, the movie was
called Shut Up and Sing, which they apparently had to change when the
Dixie Chicks documentary of the same name came out. Unfortunately, this
original title occasionally is too fitting. We basically like these
characters but sometimes we get tired of all their bitching.
(Editor's note: About a year after this
review was originally written, the movie's title was changed yet again for video release,
to the more generic The Wedding Weekend.)
Despite the characters' complaints otherwise, they seem to have pretty good lives.
Most of them are well off, have reasonable jobs and beautiful women in their
lives (the women in general are significantly prettier here than in The
Big Chill, where only Williams was supposed to be a true beauty) who put
up with all their foibles and their constantly obsessing about the past.
Unlike The Big Chill, though, Sing Now… has some rather
awkward plot turns – meeting another singer in a jail, a last minute
false-alarm that the wedding may be in danger and a long-simmering argument
between the groom and the LA buddy which is never really resolved.
the music doesn’t keep up – in the old film, the friends partied and danced
to classic Motown – here it is done to Tone Loc. The older film makes a
subtle psychological point with The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get
What You Want.” This one pounds home a rather obvious point using
Ambrosia’s “Holding On To Yesterday.” (A song which was popular when these
guys were about six – by the way…)
Still, even if Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace can’t hold up to
the film that obviously inspired it, this is a fresh and mostly very likable
cast telling a story worth seeing. (4/07)
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Posted: April 9, 2007.