Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in a romantic comedy: How can it go wrong? Let us count the ways

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You have to work pretty hard to make a romantic comedy starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder completely unlikeable, but writer-director Victor Levin is up to the task.

“Destination Wedding” is a miserable, smug, excruciating experience, a soul-crusher that works overtime to make you despise its characters. Gen X icons Reeves and Ryder are such a natural team that they could make a Kleenex commercial appealing, but they’re robbed of their charisma here playing a pair of vapid, self-absorbed Debbie Downers who should be heading off to their respective therapy sessions, not a destination wedding.

Reeves is Frank, a power broker who is heading to his brother’s wedding in California’s wine country. It’s hate at first sight when at the airport he meets Lindsay (Ryder), the groom-to-be’s ex, and they begin a bickering session that rarely lets up, until it’s time for them to admit they’re actually into one another.

Levin has fashioned “Destination Wedding” as a sort of anti-“Before Sunrise.” Frank and Lindsay talk and talk and talk and talk, in long cuts where the camera is locked in a fixed position. But their dialogue is unnatural and overly wordy, like a bad Kevin Smith script. Picture “Clerks 2” as a feckless rom-com and you’re in the ballpark.

There’s a scene midway through the film where Frank and Lindsay are in bed critiquing each other’s appearances, and for a few minutes, the characters let down their guard and Reeves and Ryder give a glimpse of what “Destination Wedding” could have been. But Levin is determined to make you loathe his characters, and for the most part, he succeeds. Set this RSVP on fire.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

‘Destination Wedding’

GRADE: D

Rated R for language throughout and sexual content

Running time: 90 minutes

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