*Is the idea of a Chicano marrying an African-American really all that shocking? Maybe it is in L.A. where gang warfare has brothers and cholos gunning down each other in bloody drive-bys.

Elsewhere, I suspect it’s not that big a deal, but don’t tell that to the Ramirezes and the Boyds, the clans that come to butt heads in Our Family Wedding.

For Lucia Ramirez (America Ferrara) and Marcus Boyd (Lance Gross) fell in love while in grad school at Columbia University on the East Coast. He’s a doctor, and she was studying to be a lawyer, but dropped out (without her parents permission) to volunteer at a charter school. Anyhow, they both hail from Los Angeles, and return to their hometown to inform their parents of their plans to marry in two weeks.

Trouble is Lucia and Marcus’ fathers (Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia) already hate each other and their offspring’s impending wedding only gives the prejudiced patriarchs an excuse to up the antipathy. So, they each do their best to control the couple’s plans in accordance with their own cultural traditions: Catholic vs. Baptist, jumping the broom vs. a veil and lasso, etcetera.

Since I’d seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I think I know what director Rick Famuyiwa was shooting for, namely, a heartwarming, cross-cultural comedy loaded with laughs. Unfortunately, this mean-spirited, cliché-ridden shockfest fails to measure up in any meaningful way.

The flick’s lame attempt at ethnic humor is mostly of the “Once you go black, you don’t go back.” and “Is it true what they say about black guys?” stale stereotyping variety. The idea-bereft scriptwriters had precious little going for them in the way of creativity, given their milking both inadvertent ingestion of Viagra and cake in the face for laughs twice.

Even the pat resolution, overlaid with unearned sentiment, is annoying, especially the gratuitous, wedding reception dance scene, as that device is conveniently employed to suggest that all the scatterplot’s loose ends have been tied, if assorted adversaries can shimmy up a Soul Train line together. On the positive side, at least a bouncy tune like Earth Wind and Fire’s September is the fastest way to get an audience on its feet to clear a theater.

I just saved you a lot of aggravation. You owe me.

Poor (½ star)
Rated PG-13 for brief profanity and sexuality.
In English and Spanish with subtitles.
Running time: 90 Minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

To see a trailer for Our Family Wedding, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKfmsOfYNh8