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Four Weddings and a Funeral: Deluxe Edition

Once upon a time, not so long ago in the not-so-far-away kingdom of England, Hugh Grant was not a movie star. His Floppiness Potential was completely untapped, his stammeringly charming delivery confined to forgettable TV movies and miniseries. Then, one day in the early '90s, along came a little romantic comedy known as Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), a wee British indie that reigned as the United Kingdom's most profitable movie until it was eclipsed in 1999 by another Grant vehicle, Notting Hill. Directed by Mike Newell, Four Weddings follows posh upper-class bloke Charles (Grant) through about a year and a half of his life, over the course of which he attends the titular events and falls hard for lovely American Carrie (Andie MacDowell — at the time, a much bigger name than Grant). Keeping Charles company is a motley crew of friends that includes earnest Tom (James Fleet), elegant Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas), brash Scarlett (the late Charlotte Coleman), wry Matthew (John Hannah), and boisterous Gareth (Simon Callow, giving one of the film's best supporting performances), as well as Charles' deaf brother, David (David Bower). The whole gang dances, toasts, and quips its way through the same occasions that conspire to throw Charles and Carrie together — and keep them apart — offering an often-hilarious glimpse into the workings of contemporary British high society. Four Weddings and a Funeral succeeds largely thanks to the fortuitous pairing of Richard Curtis's dryly cynical (yet sweet) script and Grant's iconic performance (his famously unkempt haircut prompted a fad á la "The Rachel" from "Friends"). Grant's Charles stutters and stumbles over words right and left as he courts the sophisticated, glamorous Carrie, a "flaw" that, combined with his oh-so-British self-mockery, makes him all the more endearing. If anything, he's almost too vulnerable and sympathetic — at times it seems like MacDowell's more-experienced Carrie could eat Charles for lunch. But she, like the legions of fans who helped the film succeed, ultimately succumbs to the Floppiness Factor. And who can blame her? If real life was as romantic and well-scripted as Four Weddings and a Funeral, every Carrie would find her perfect Charles — and know exactly what to say to him when they met. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Deluxe Edition DVD is a big improvement over the previous, virtually bare-bones release. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is sharp and strong, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio doesn't disappoint (French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Stereo Surround tracks are also available, as are English, Spanish, and French subtitles). The extras are plentiful, too: Led off by an audio commentary with Newell, Curtis, and producer Duncan Kenworthy, the disc also includes five brief deleted scenes, a good 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, and two shorter featurettes (the 8-min. "Four Weddings and a Funeral: In the Making" and the 6-min. "Two Actors and a Director"), plus a photo gallery, two unused promo spots, and a trailer. Keep-case with semi-transparent plastic sleeve.
—Betsy Bozdech

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