The Knot fails but Liberal Arts is a mixed bag

THE KNOT (cert 15)
With The Knot, British screenwriter/actor Noel Clarke (Kidulthood, Adulthood) is attempting to cash in on wedding-based money-spinners Bridesmaids and The Hangover. The problem is, those two films were funny and The Knot is not.

Instead we get a jovial procession of tired clichés, unsympathetic characters and unfunny jokes – douchebag men who pee on toilet seats and sentimental women who crave fairytale white dresses.

There is a universal lack of chemistry amongst the cast, but the bride and groom are especially unconvincing as a couple. They appear to have nothing in common apart from a few obnoxious friends and an inability to act. This is a certified zero-laugh comedy. Watching it is as enjoyable as being forced to attend the real-life nuptials of a couple that you do not know or like. It captures all the boredom and toe-curling embarrassment of a wedding, but none of the potential for poignancy or humour.

Actor/screenwriter/director Josh Radnor’s second feature film, Liberal Arts, is a twee but intelligent nostalgia trip that will appeal to jaded adults pained by the disparity between youthful idealism and the reality of mature life. Good performances all round and sensitive characterisation render the earnest talkiness just about bearable.

Jesse (played by Radnor himself) is a 30-something admissions officer in a New York university, who is undergoing a kind of early mid-life crisis, during which is introduced to an enthusiastic young student frustrated with the immature guys on campus. Radnor is perceptive in his handling of the motivations that might cause a 19 year old to fall for a 35 year old and a 35 year old to fall for a 19 year old and there is unexpected wisdom in the way he resolves it.