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'Margot at the Wedding'

A comedy from dysfunctional- family expert Noah (Squid and the Whale) Baumbach about sisters who loathe each other — so what's not to like?

Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh, who in real life is Baumbach's wife) plays the family screw-up. She's about to marry an unemployed rock musician (Jack Black), whose main occupation seems to be penning hate mail to music critics. Enter her supremely judgmental sis — short-story writer Margot (Nicole Kidman) — who has no boundaries whatever, and who arrives at the wedding prepared to sabotage everyone and everything, including herself.

Neighbors feud, kids almost drown, trees fall on wedding tents — and then there's the stuff that goes wrong. The film is more a collection of incidents than a story, but it's decently engaging and deliciously acted, especially by Kidman, who's at once compellingly monstrous and surprisingly touching.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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