By Anthony Breznican, USA TODAY
A young couple has decided to marry, but one set of parents doesn’t approve of the in-laws’ family.
It’s a familiar story of opposites attracting, told from many angles, including race. Usually one of the families is WASPy in the extreme.
But in Our Family Wedding, a romantic comedy opening March 12, both the bride and groom are people of color, just different hues. Their prejudiced fathers, however, can see only red.
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) stars as a law student, the first from her Latino family to go to college, and Lance Gross (House of Payne) is a black medical student, who proposes a quick wedding before whisking his love off to a foreign land as part of Doctors Without Borders.
“My character is defining herself apart from her family,” Ferrera says. “That starts with it being very controversial that she’s marrying a black man. It has two minority perspectives from people who have their own instincts of preservation and exclusivity and what they think of as ‘the other.’ It doesn’t have to be just white vs. every other minority. That’s what makes the film special.”
Her father, played by comic Carlos Mencia, runs a car restoration and towing company, while Gross’ father, played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, is a flashy hip-hop radio DJ.
“They do not like each other,” Ferrera says. “All their undertones of racism are projected onto their children and the choices they’re making. They think they know better and are telling their children, ‘You’ll see. Stereotypes exist for a reason.’ My family is crazy, his family is crazy, and they think they’re so different.”
Director Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar) says it goes beyond race and also becomes a generational story, as the lovesick, colorblind kids trigger reflection in their parents, whose own relationships need work.
Mencia’s character and his wife “have been married 25 years, got married young, raised a family, worked very hard and made a success of themselves, and then you have Forest Whitaker, who’s a divorcé and has a completely different perspective on marriage. He sees that marriage doesn’t always lead to happy endings,” Famuyiwa says.
The filmmaker says he hopes it’s more than just the typical clash of wacky families.
“People will identify with somebody in the film,” he says, “whether it’s the young couple, whether it’s the couple who are like the old, comfortable pair of shoes, or whether it’s the people who’ve been burned by love and have to figure out whether they can trust again.”