Jenny’s Wedding is an indie film that came out this past summer that contains a surprising amount of positive messages. It’s about a lesbian who’s been living with her girlfriend for the past five years and passing her off as her roommate. After her (very annoying) family pesters her about when she’s going to get married, she decides to come out to them and marry Kitty. The movie largely stays away from political issues, taking for granted that two women can get married and that their relationship can be accepted by their society as a whole. Despite the traditional religious faith that several of the characters profess, it also avoids theological issues. Instead, the focus is on the reconciliation between Jenny and her family. She has to make it up to them for keeping a secret for so long, and their attitude towards her relationship with Kitty has to evolve from mere tolerance to full acceptance.
I almost stopped watching at certain points because the characters didn’t strike me as very good people. Jenny’s parents ask her to keep her sexual orientation to herself so as not to embarrass them in front of their conventional, somewhat closed-minded friends. Her bratty sister, Ann, spreads a rumor around the neighborhood that she’s dating a married man, and then erupts over being initially left out of the secret when she discovers the truth, and makes the entire situation about herself and how she feels “unloved,” then interprets the dead grass in her front yard as a symbol of her unhappy marriage. (This actually made me want to watch the whole thing, just to see what would happen.) Jenny makes a scene at a wake, where she tactlessly comes out to her parents’ best friends, and her father tactlessly asks her how she and Kitty have sex. It seemed like an unrealistic scene to me. Having it all go down at a funeral home? Really? I’m hoping it wasn’t inspired by real life. Then Jenny’s father stops speaking to her and won’t even let his wife speak about her.
But it’s inevitable that your kids are going to embarrass you and disappoint you and even make you angry at times. When you decide to be a parent, those are some of the things you sign up for. And you forgive your kids again and again because that’s what you do when you love someone. You can’t not forgive them when they hurt you.
Jenny hurts her parents and her parents hurt her, but forgiveness is a big part of this movie. I believe forgiveness is one of the most wonderful aspects of human relationships. Letting someone back into your life and moving on from the times when you hurt each other can be a great joy.
And when Jenny has all this drama with her family, Kitty sticks by her. She doesn’t decide it’s too much for her and walk away. This movie shows what a relationship with a real sense of commitment should be like. It shows humans at not at their worst but at some pretty bad moments, and also shows them at their best.
There’s one scene towards the end that gets borderline political, and it’s when Jenny’s mother overhears her friends gossiping in a grocery store, saying things that aren’t too kind about Jenny and her marriage.
“Since when did you two become such experts on what’s normal and right? Tell me, Marion, is it normal and right for your daughter to become pregnant by every passing stranger and leave you to raise the kids? Or for Karen and her bum of a husband to never get a job and rob you and Denny of every last penny of your retirement savings? That’s all normal and right just because the men sleep with women and the women sleep with men! But Jenny, who is generous and kind and who has never hurt anyone isn’t normal and right because she wants to marry the woman she loves! Jenny’s good! And I love her! And the only thing that’s not normal and right is me turning my back on that!”
It’s reminiscent of the old “So Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasts 72 days and Britney Spears gets married for 55 hours but the gays are ruining the sanctity of marriage?” arguments. The plot in general makes this point: a traditional, opposite-sex marriage fails (the catalyst is grass) while a gay couple happily plans their wedding. The movie never explicitly gets into the legal issues surrounding homosexuality and gay marriage. It’s about a same-sex wedding affecting a small group of people. It’s about them, not their country, state, or even city. It’s about accepting the people closest to you even when they’re not who you thought they were all along.
Like most movies, it has a happy ending. It can serve as entertainment for an hour and a half, or it can be food for thought if you want to get into complex issues. I’d tell fellow conservatives not to be too concerned about it: the movie doesn’t bash any political or religious group in particular. It doesn’t say “support gay marriage or else.” In the end, it’s a decent movie about family, friendship, commitment, and the meaning of love – and grass.