Jenny (Katherine Heigl) is the middle-child in a working-class family. Openly adored by her parents for being the stable, level-headed child, there has never been an issue of Jenny feeling overlooked. Rather, she feels smothered by their questions of when she will get married and have children. But Jenny, for as much of her life as she has together, has always been too afraid to tell her family that she’s gay. Coming out as a lesbian is difficult enough for most people with heterosexual parents, but Jenny’s family also happen to be conservative Catholics (read: the type of people who think that gay children are the products of bad parents), and her parents have their hands full with their other daughter, Anne (Grace Gummer). Anne is married but is a single parent in every respect, the primary breadwinner and sole provider for her children while her husband is always gone, whereabouts often unknown.
But Jenny isn’t getting any younger, and she’s ready to settle down with her girlfriend, Kitty (Alexis Bledel), the partner that she’s passed off as her roommate for years. With the support of her older brother, Michael (Matthew Netzger), the only family member who knows that she’s gay, and a desire to start a family as her motivation, Jenny decides to come out to her parents, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.
Jenny’s Wedding is sweet and often charming, but it fails in many areas. The first major fail was the casting of two heterosexual women for the roles of Jenny and Kitty. This is a co-opting of a very real, ongoing struggle that straight people don’t have to endure. Then there’s the casting of Bledel, a lackluster (to put it mildly) actress whose most notable performance was as the overly-caffeinated, book smart Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. Whether it’s because Bledel’s face is more memorable than her acting or simply because she could not connect with this character, Jenny and Kitty’s relationship simply wasn’t believable. That said, Heigl’s performances in Jenny’s interactions with her family, as well as Gummer’s performance as Anne were absolutely stellar, raw, and thoroughly memorable. The characters of Jenny’s parents were also made poignantly, often painfully, believable in outstanding performances by Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond.
Jenny’s Wedding isn’t just an LGBTQIA film, but a believable slice-of-life. In an otherwise conservatice, cishet, White suburban family, Jenny’s sexual orientation is the “crisis” that tests the family’s loyalties to one another, as well as forces them to question their own biases, prejudice, and priorities. I give this one 3.5 stars.