Sister of the Bride (2019)

Hallmark movies don’t usually inspire extreme emotions in me, but on occasion I find myself yelling at a bird-brained character or ugly crying my way through a box of tissues. In the case of Sister of the Bride, it’s the former because while I like the movie overall, one character spoils the mood at every turn. Robert (Michael Gross), father of the bride and her sister, needs to be booted back to the past, where his arcane views on marriage and a woman’s agency belong. Also, he’s rude.

Contrast him with Stephanie (Becca Tobin) and Ben (Ryan Rottman), neither the bride nor the groom in this story but the couple at the center things. I’m indifferent to both actors, but they are so adorably loved up here that I have no choice but to stan. They play college professors who are a perfect match when it comes to their respect and willingness to sacrifice for one another. Stephanie, a woman who locks onto a goal and doesn’t let go, has the same approach when it comes to her personal life. She knows her partner is the one after six months of dating and doesn’t have to think twice when he stages a public proposal with cello accompaniment. Ben, clearly not fooling around, loves her for everything that makes her strong and successful.

So they think they’re inoculated against naysayers like her father, who feels they’re rushing things. Robert wastes no time showing his disappointment when they arrive at his Palm Springs vacation home and announce their engagement. He doesn’t understand why they don’t just date for ten years like Stephanie’s sister, Tracy (Chelsea Gilson), and her boyfriend, Preston (Brad Benedict), who also come bearing engagement news. Robert goes out of his way to belittle Ben, chastising him for not first asking permission to marry his daughter and then balking when the couple want to pay for their own nuptials instead of letting him foot the bill as tradition dictates. Stephanie and Ben don’t give two fucks though because they’re marrying each other and not her father. Each has a different approach to Robert’s condescension, but Stephanie’s hard line is particularly satisfying. Gently but firmly, she schools her father, telling him that she can make her own decisions, thank you very much, and that his meddling isn’t going to change her love for Ben, so maybe GTF over it.

That’s not to say the couple don’t have things to work through. They quickly find they do need to reassess their future when Tracy and Preston decide to get married over the July 4th weekend, one month away. Mom (Beth Broderick) and Pops are selling their massive vacation home so they can travel more, though if your second home is a mansion in Palm Springs, I doubt you’re hard up for cash. Rich people problems are not at issue, however, and hasty wedding planning is, with Stephanie and Ben doing most of the work. In between choosing invitations and menu options, they realize that they differ not just on favorite colors but on family size and career plans. Luckily I’m not the one who has to figure this stuff out, so I get to enjoy the fact that Ben is as adamant about Stephanie not giving up her tenure track position as she is about him accepting a dream job at Oxford.

Released: 2019
Dir: Sam Irvin
Writer: Anna White
Cast: Becca Tobin, Ryan Rottman, Michael Gross, Beth Broderick, Chelsea Gilson, Brad Benedict, Tilky Jones, Claude Knowlton
Time: 84 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2020