This Altman-esque family comedy - actually superior to most films in that overrated auteur's canon, if you ask me - is worth celebrating as an overdue return to form by '80s icon Jonathan Demme, who has squandered much of the past 15 years on political documentaries and pointless remakes like "The Manchurian Candidate."
Anne Hathaway, though, is the icing on the cake.
She's the one to beat for the Best Actress Oscar for her riveting turn as Kym, who has spent years in and out of rehab after her drug use led to the accidental death of her younger brother.
The self-pitying Kym isn't about to let anyone forget about it, even if the weekend at the family's rambling Connecticut house is supposed to center around the bride, Kym's younger sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt).
Rachel tries to grab back the spotlight for her interracial wedding by announcing she's pregnant, but she faces tough competition from Kym, who bullies her into dumping the maid of honor.
Kym begins her mood-swinging weekend away from a residential facility by shagging the best man, another recovering addict. The acting out escalates until she literally comes to blows with her and Rachel's remarried mother (Debra Winger) - and crashes a car, to boot.
Caught in the middle is their divorced dad (Bill Irwin), remarried to a patient black woman (Anna Deavere Smith). His response to practically anything is to feed the guests - and one of the movie's most memorable scenes is, oddly, a dishwasher-loading competition between dad and the bridegroom (Tunde Adebimpe).
While all the drama is unfolding, so are the weekend's ceremonies, including a rehearsal dinner with awkward/eloquent toasts and an Indian-themed wedding, all accompanied by pretty much nonstop performances of world music.
There's so much music that one of the biggest laughs is when the annoyed Kym tells the musicians to just knock it off.
The observant and witty script by Jenny Lumet - daughter of legendary director Sidney and granddaughter of another legend, Lena Horne - presents a seemingly idealized portrait of racial harmony.
Or maybe not. Just watch the expressions on Mom's face and tell me if she's totally comfortable with her liberal ideals.
There is too much going on for a single viewing of this bustling movie, which rings true where the similarly themed "Margot at the Wedding" rang false.
Demme's film is informed by generosity of spirit, a capacity for growth and, above all, humanism that seems light years evolved from the self-centered whining in Noah Baumbach's movie.
The director and cinematographer Declan Quinn (who also shot the gorgeous "Monsoon Wedding") are in love with their characters and the music, even if that means putting the narrative on hold at crucial junctures.
I would also have liked to see more of Winger, whose few scenes leave a great many questions tantalizingly unanswered.
But those are minor cavils about a movie so bursting with life as "Rachel Getting Married."
As Kym, Hathaway runs an astonishing gamut of emotions, from anger to fragility and from hurt to regret - without ever seeming actress-y, like Nicole Kidman. Start clearing that mantelpiece, Anne.