The Wedding Tackle

UK 1999

Reviewed by Keith Perry


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

London, the present. Vinni and Hal are engaged but have unspoken doubts about their upcoming marriage. Hal's friend Mac, who's sleeping with barmaid Petula, organises Hal's stag night. Present at the stag night are Vinni's ex-lover Ted and Hal's flatmate Salty, who has recently split with girlfriend Clodagh over the disappearance of her pet rat Roy. Unknown to her, Hal has a photograph of his own pet snake eating Roy.

Vinni confesses her misgivings about the marriage to Clodagh; the two join the stag night. Ted reveals a list allegedly containing the names of people with whom Hal has had sex. Clodagh is on the list. Ted plans to have the wedding cancelled by photographing Hal in bed with Petula, but Petula mistakenly seduces Salty. George, Petula's husband (who's a policeman), corners Petula and Salty; Clodagh knocks him unconscious.

Hal tells Mac he wants the engagement broken off and plans to catch Vinni with another man. He suggests Ted; Mac offers himself. Ted and Salty have a violent run-in with a taxi driver but escape. As revenge for his revealing the list of Hal's alleged ex-lovers, Clodagh has Ted arrested. George locks him in a cell with the taxi driver. A dominatrix later ensnares Salty. Mac's fake seduction of Vinni is reciprocated with genuine affection. Envious when Vinni leaves with Mac, Hal goes home with Clodagh. Having seen the picture revealing Roy's true fate, Clodagh ties Hal to a bed and tortures him.


For a film claiming to focus on the hidden venality among old friends, The Wedding Tackle gives little suggestion of selfish streaks beneath longtime amity. Those characters who are egotistical or mean duly get their comeuppance. Adrian Dunbar's quiet-spoken Mac, meanwhile, is altruistic to the last and walks off with friend Hal's former fiancée, Vinni. The press notes may describe the film as a "machiavellian comedy of errors", but here the nice guy finishes first.

Coming in the wake of other ensemble British comedies such as This Year's Love and the cheerfully polysexual Bedrooms and Hallways, The Wedding Tackle - set during a stag night for reluctant groom-to-be Hal - also feels anonymous and very straight. There's no sense of contemporary London (at a trendy nightclub, punks dance to the Box Tops' pop hit 'The Letter'), while Mac is mortified to discover that Hal may once have had sex with a man. Screenwriter Nigel Horne throws some nice lines into the mix (after Mac comments on prospective wife Vinni's intelligence, Hal enthusiastically nods: "I know: potential major breadwinner"), but creates a situation in which nothing is at stake. The aborted-marriage scenario works most effectively (as in Robert Altman's A Wedding, 1978) when the social embarrassment is seen to work on those it hits most keenly, the parents. Horne, however, restricts himself to one generation; given they are so mismatched, Hal and Vinni ditching their marriage plans is actually to the benefit of all concerned.

Once the stag night is underway, Horne bats between the girls and the lads with clunking irony. Vinni's line to best friend Clodagh about her boyfriend, "at least you can trust Salty", cuts directly to Salty cheating on her in a toilet cubicle. (The Foley artists went to town here - it's the most audible fellatio scene since Pierre Salvadori's Wild Target.)

Debut director and former stage actor Rami Dvir opts for a functional, televisual mise en scène, with an even editing rhythm, shallow rack focusing and flat blocking (a dialogue scene involving six characters in a pub has everyone facing camera). Horne creates one promising scene - where Salty has to kill a cat with a shovel to prevent an irate taxi driver from snapping his friend Ted's neck - but Dvir fails to draw out its latent sense of humour or menace.

The experienced cast members are mostly given parts that bring to mind roles they have already played on television: Neil Stuke's Salty is similar to the sexually frustrated mooncalf he perfected in the BBC sitcom Game On, while Leslie Grantham, as psychotic cuckold George, is called on to repeat his leering routine from Channel 5's high-concept game show Fort Boyard. The one true delight on offer here is the post-rehab Tony Slattery - now puffy, morose and adenoidal - giving a relatively controlled performance as Vinni's ex-lover Ted. The pleasure is derived partly from schadenfreude over his past self-indulgences, partly from his relaxed performance, but mainly from our ironic recognition that his character is fun only when he's drunk.


Rami Dvir
Nigel Horne
Nigel Horne
Director of Photography
Shelley Hirst
Matthew Tabern
Mike Latham
Production Designer
Sarah Beaman
Charles Hodgkinson
Kirk Zavieh
©Blackberry Ltd.
Production Company
A Viking Films production
Executive Producer
Don Horne
Line Producer
Anne Boyd
Production Co-ordinator
Jacqueline McGee
Location Manager
Peter Hoar
Assistant Directors
Fiona Black
Radford Neville
Yohan McDonald
Script Supervisor
Pauline Gaunt
Jackie Hare
Script Editor
Jilly Horne
Camera Operator
John Hembrough
Art Directors
Sarah Nelson
Mark Digby
Jed Stone
Photographs in Hal's Studio
Rob Clifford
Scenic Artist
Alan Wood
Costume Designer
Jane Spicer
Wardrobe Mistress
Claire Porter
Make-up Supervisor
Jane Jamieson
Make-up/Hair Artist
Emma Scott
General Screen Enterprises
Music Supervisors
Roz Colls
Music Matters
"I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten", "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" - Dusty Springfield; "Girl Don't Come", "Long Live Love", "Puppet on a String" - Sandie Shaw; "Something Tells Me (Something's Gonna Happen Tonight)" - Cilla Black; "You've Got Your Troubles" - The Fortunes; "Walking Back to Happiness" - Helen Shapiro; "Where Do You Go to My Lovely" - Peter Sarstedt; "You Were Made for Me" - Freddy and the Dreamers;
"Lightnin' Strikes" - Lou Christie; "Lovesick Blues" - Frank Ifield; "Bobby's Girl" - Susan Maughan; "Dance On" - Kathy Kirby; "The Letter" - The Box Tops; "I'm a Tiger", "Boom Bang a Bang" - Lulu
Sound Recordist
Matthew Harmer
Re-recording Mixers
Nic Le Messurier
Brendan Nicholson
Supervising Sound Editor
Andy Kennedy
Dialogue Editor
Jonathan Cronin
Sandy Buchanan
Andie Derrick
Peter Burgis
Sandy Buchanan
A1 Animals
Adrian Dunbar
Mr Mac
James Purefoy
Tony Slattery
Little Ted
Neil Stuke
Leslie Grantham
Victoria Smurfit
Susan Vidler
Amanda Redman
Martin Armstrong
Sara Stockbridge
Roger Gartland
Al Hunter Ashton
taxi driver
Saul Cambridge
head chef
Mark Gilvary
Marshall Lancaster
chief with chops
Gary Ross
police sergeant
Diane Worswick
Brad Shaw
chef with melon
Angela Saul
cat owner
Jilly Horne
girl in the crypt
Sally Horne
barmaid in The Gallery
Ratpack Films Limited
8,360 feet
92 minutes 54 seconds
Dolby Digital
Colour/Prints by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011