"Confetti": Improvising actors hope to win a wedding (and be funny)

A cheerfully messy mockumentary, Debbie Isitt's "Confetti," is the tale of three couples competing in a "most original wedding" contest sponsored by a London bridal magazine. "Not everyone wants their special day ruined by a gimmick, but some do," notes a contest organizer.

Indeed: Sam (Jessica Stevenson) and Matt (Martin Freeman) want their wedding in a style of an old-time musical, but are hampered by the fact that they don't sing or dance very well. Josef (Steven Mangan) and Isabelle (Meredith MacNeill), competitive athletes whose relationship is reminiscent of the high-strung Parker Posey/Michael Hitchcock couple in "Best in Show," plan a tennis theme. And Michael (Robert Webb) and Joanna (Olivia Colman), nature-loving nudists, want as little in the way of clothing as possible.

Movie review2.5 stars

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"Confetti," with Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Vincent Franklin. Conceived and directed by Debbie Isitt. 94 minutes. Rated R for nudity and language. Several theaters.

Entirely improvised by the cast, the film has some undeniably funny moments, particularly with the two bubbly-as-champagne wedding planners (Vincent Franklin, Jason Watkins) as they toss out fabulous ideas — for the tennis couple, a parade of ball boys; for the nudists, a ceremony featuring a VW van. But the deck's a little stacked (it's clear immediately who's going to win), and the film seems to take awhile to get to its raison d'être: the three weddings, each more lavishly absurd than the next. (Alas, though, Isitt seems to have no idea how to film the Busby Berkeley-style choreography of Sam and Matt's nuptials.)

Ultimately, "Confetti" is a pleasant reminder of other movies that are a little better. Its structure brings to mind Christopher Guest's films, particularly "Waiting for Guffman," but its cast isn't as consistently funny as Guest's ensemble, and its zany pace (and frequent use of the song "Love Is In the Air") reminiscent of "Strictly Ballroom."

But behind the silly dances and fake noses, there's some genuine heart here, particularly in Sam and Matt's subplot. In one scene, Sam gets a makeover at a wedding fashion show, and Matt gazes at her as if he can't quite believe that this vision of beauty could be his. It's a sweet reminder that deep down, "Confetti" is a love story.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com