When I lived in New York City in the 1990s, there was a subway ad campaign to raise awareness about the mistreatment of senior citizens that used the tagline “That’s Elder Abuse — Any Questions?” The phrase floated through my mind as I watched “Love, Weddings & Other Disasters,” a Boston-set romantic comedy arriving on demand that stars, among others, Diane Keaton and Jeremy Irons. Respectively 74 and 72, the two actors are far from candidates for the ice floe, but since the film industry stops counting at 60 for men and 30 for women, this dreary, low-rent “Love Actually” imitation may be the best they can get.
It’s money well spent, I guess. The scenes between Irons and Keaton, playing a snooty wedding planner and the down-to-earth blind woman with whom he has a late-life romance, have a charm and class that elude the rest of the movie. Maggie Grace (“Lost”) has the main story line as Jesse, a newbie wedding planner who talks herself into arranging the nuptials of a slick young mayoral candidate (Dennis Staroselsky) and his fiancee (Caroline Portu). In doing so, she comes up against a rival in the frosty Lawrence Phillips (Irons) as well as the handsome frontman (Diego Boneta) for “the best bar band in Boston,” which mostly plays tired pop-rock riffs from the ’80s.
Parallel story lines concern a hyperactive duck-boat tour guide (Andrew Bachelor) pining for the rider who got away (Rachel Wirtz) and — in the movie’s least funny and most cringe-inducing tangent — a reality show contest where the groom’s klutzy brother (Andy Goldenberg) is literally chained to a Russian hooker (Melinda Hill), with her gangster pimp boyfriend (Todd Stashwick) in close pursuit. Dennis Dugan, the director and co-writer of “Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” and a longstanding member of Adam Sandler’s “Happy Madison” mafia, does himself no favors by casting himself as the TV show’s braying emcee in sequences that play like a community cable production.
The pluses are a few pretty shots of Boston Common, various locations in Southie, and the thought that this production helped local talent and craftspeople pay the rent. The scenes with Keaton and Irons, too, rise above the mediocrity-unto-badness of “Love, Weddings & Other Disasters” on the strength of the actors’ charisma alone. Irons thaws satisfyingly as a snob finding unexpected love, and Keaton remains adorably, engagingly herself, turning her character’s blindness into a la-di-da form of grace. They are diamonds at a garage sale, and they deserve better. Any questions?
LOVE, WEDDINGS & OTHER DISASTERS
Directed by Dennis Dugan. Written by Dugan, Eileen Conn, Larry Miller. Starring Maggie Grace, Diane Keaton, Jeremy Irons, Andrew Bachelor. Available on demand. PG-13 (crude sexual material, some strong language).