By Jack Dignan
Originally Published on Salty Popcorn
Sometimes, all you need in life is a sweet, harmless and endearing movie to make everything feel better. It’s nothing too complex or over-plotted, but rather simple in execution and leaves a lingering sensation of delight. While preferable, it doesn’t have to be a great film. Really, it doesn’t even need to be good. But so long as it makes you happy, that’s all you really need. ALI’S WEDDING made me very happy, and it’s exactly the type of movie that’s going to make the world around you feel like a better place.
The opening shot of this movie is hilarious. And I mean *hilarious*. It makes the film worthwhile before the actual film even begins, and while one may argue the jokes that follow don’t land nearly as well, it is, in all fairness, hard to top. This is not a work of fiction. It may feel like it, but it isn’t. It’s so much better. We follow the story of Ali (Osamah Sami), a Muslim living in Australia with his family. Ali, or Charlie as he sometimes goes by, is looking for a number of things in life, all of which go against his parent’s wants, including wanting to choose the girl he marries.
His parents are in the midst of arranging his marriage to Yomma (Maha Wilson), meanwhile Ali finds himself falling for an Australian-born Lebanese girl named Dianne (Helena Sawires). And believe it or not, she might just have some secret, deeply hidden feelings for him too. Between secret get-togethers and “study” sessions, Ali stumbles into another so-called “white lie.” He’s been studying to become a doctor, making his father (Don Hany) proud, but after failing his entry exam, Ali doesn’t have the heart to ruin his father’s dreams. Instead, he pretends to attend Melbourne University, but his slowly building collection of lies are starting to catch up with him…
ALI’S WEDDING, not too long after its hilarious opener, boasts a title card that’ll make AMERICAN HUSTLE proud. It states “Based On A True Story… Unfortunately.” That statement soon proves to be accurate, for this entire film is one big misadventure of love, culture, being who you are and accepting the ways other people choose to live their lives. It’s an endearing, crowd pleasing and triumphant endeavor grown fresh here in Australia and full of cheeky Aussie humour. ALI’S WEDDING and THE BIG SICK are going to make one hell of a double feature come their Blu-Ray releases.
Screenwriters Osamah Sami (also the leading man) and Andrew Knight deliver a fun, easygoing, culturally relevant, unpredictable and endlessly entertaining rom-com that puts most rom-coms to shame. Knight was a co-writer on the recent HACKSAW RIDGE, so you can trust that this film is in good hands. It’s got a serious message and packs an emotional punch, but doesn’t forget to have a good laugh every now and again. And there are some seriously funny laughs. Occasionally, it goes a little overboard and tries a little too hard to get you rolling, but it does have Osamah Sami using a Sacha Baron Cohen impression to ask a girl out, so that alone is worth seeing.
One of the very few downsides to their terrific, original screenplay is that it has a tendency to spill out into random, unimportant plot elements that just play no relevance into anything. Ali’s father’s latest musical, a comedic take on Saddam Hussan’s life (something I never knew I needed to see until now), gets picked up overseas at one point. There’s a brief, two minutes scene in which all the characters get on a plane, fly overseas and are immediately arrested under suspicions that they’re terrorists. Yes, racism is bad. Yes, that actually happened in real life. But in the context of the story being told here, it’s two minutes that could’ve been cut to make for a smoother sailing journey.
There’s plenty of emphasis on the romance and the humour and the family bonding, but so many moments take this film to somewhere completely unrelated. Some of them are able to work, adding depth and liveliness to this tangible story, but others drag the runtime down. I checked my watch two thirds of the way through, thinking we were reaching an end point. Thankfully, we weren’t, for ALI’S WEDDING’s third act is exceptional. It does need to be pointed out though that Osamah Sami, no matter how great a performance he gives (and it is great), very clearly looks like the 34 year old he is, making his much younger character harder to buy into.
Australia’s first ever Muslim rom-com is an endearing as it is funny. ALI’S WEDDING is the exact type of film you’ll stumble upon one late Sunday afternoon that’ll end your weekend with a bang. See this movie. It’ll bring happiness to every part of your body and create bouncing cartoon love hearts in your eyes as soon as the credits role. Also, Ryan Corr plays a character named Wazza, and that’s pretty frackng cool if you ask me. Not as cool as Zoë Kravitz’s Toast in MAD MAX FURY ROAD, but not far behind, either.
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