In the theater, people tend to break into applause when stars they’ve paid a lot of money to see appear onstage. That always feels premature and a little parochial even though it’s just an obvious display of affection and respect. But, if we’re being honest, they haven’t done anything yet. “Cheerful Weather for the Wedding,” a flavorless movie set in the early 1930s, has a moment like that. For the opening minutes, members of the bride’s well-heeled English family have been in a state of stress. They’re mostly young and possess an uncanny ability to natter on about almost nothing — chiefly, why hasn’t the bride come down, since it’s almost time to head to the church?
When the bride’s mother blasts through the front door in slow motion, the nattering stops. The slow motion and medium close-up of her sailing into the house are just like that applause, only more desperate. For the mother isn’t Elaine Stritch, Glenn Close, Phylicia Rashad, or Chita Rivera. It’s Elizabeth McGovern, who, with all due respect, is none of those women. McGovern is always a pleasure to watch. But the spontaneous-applause treatment creates the expectation that the drama of her introduction will pay off in a grand actorly display.