As father of the bride and chief architect of "Betsy's Wedding," Alan Alda wears about as well as a bridesmaid's dress after the reception. The director, writer and star is as intrusive as an overzealous wedding photographer, an unctuous clown trampling all over bride-to-be Molly Ringwald's train.
Inspired by his own daughter's nuptials, Alda's veil-thin opus is narcissism flourishing like ragweed. He's Alda over the place, Mr. Brie Britches any way you want him, from graying sex toy to sitcom daddykins. And as a director, he hasn't got the sense to tell himself to sit down in front. He'd be the flower girl too if he thought he could get away with it.
Ringwald is nevertheless at the center of things as Betsy Hopper, a plump fashion victim whose betrothal to blue blood Jake Lovell (Dylan Walsh) precipitates a clash of values. Eddie Hopper (Alda), an Italian American real estate developer, turns down the Lovells' offer to pay for a society bash and insists on throwing an even grander wedding under a costly white tent.
Financially overextended, he turns for help to his unscrupulous brother-in-law (Joe Pesci) and an unscrupulous contractor, Georgie (Burt Young). As the pressures mount, Eddie, his wife, Lola (Madeline Kahn), their eldest daughter, Connie (Ally Sheedy), Lola's sister Gloria (Catherine O'Hara), Gloria's husband's secretary and others are sucked into the pre-connubial maelstrom like rice in the wind.
The bridal rash spreads, and several candidates stand with arms outstretched even before the bouquet is tossed. Connie, a jawsome cop, becomes the heart's desire of Georgie's nephew -- a Mafia prince named Stevie Dee. As artfully played by Anthony LaPaglia, this young don is just about the movie's salvation. He manages to be at once mannered and genuine in his persistent courtship of the lumpen Connie.
As the wedding day draws nigh, Betsy and Jake get the jitters. Realizing that the ceremony is now merely a compromise between Lovell conservatism and Hopper individuality, they think about calling the whole thing off. Betsy especially hates her gown, and in a final act of rebelliousness decides to wear something more to her liking.
Deep it's not. Like Alda's other comedies -- "The Four Seasons," "Sweet Liberty" and "A New Life" -- this one is slight fare, a toothless variation on the themes of Woody Allen and Neil Simon. "Betsy's Wedding" is white cake and warm bubbly, not an unsuitable marriage, just a tepid one.