The Big Wedding is somewhat funny, but offers nothing new.
After the movie Defiance, my wife and I instituted the 30-minute rule for movies: if we didn't like it at the 30-minute mark, either one of us could pull the plug. Too bad we as critics can't do the same for theater duds like The Big Wedding.
As wedding day arrives for couple Missy (Amanda Seyfried, Les Miserables) and Alejandro (Ben Barnes, Narnia: Dawn Treader), Alejandro's separated parents Don (Robert DeNiro, Goodfellas) and Ellie (Diane Keaton, Morning Glory) must pretend to be married again to appease the boy's biological mother and devout Catholic. Don and Ellie's biological children Jared (Topher Grace, Ocean's Eleven) and Lyla (Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up) have their own relationship problems, as one has just left her boyfriend and the other remains a virgin whose reasons are a mysterious as the Loc Ness Monster. Don's girlfriend Bebe (Susan Sarandon, Arbitrage) has raised this dysfunctional threesome, while Ellie went off to dominate a misogynistic world. Missy's post-recession family is all Cardashian in their lifestyle but will soon lose their house to foreclosure; they're just as sexually deprived as everyone else here, and soon it's clear that something's got to give. When it does, all Father Moiniham (Robin Williams, Dead Poet's Society) can do is marry our young couple before the others find out.
If all this sounds like a train wreck, believe me that the result is not pleasant. Director/Writer Justin Zackham doesn't offer anything new or even particularly funny with Wedding. We've seen him write far better (The Bucket List), and his debut directorial skills are wasted on an incredibly talented cast. Keaton, Seyfried, and Sarandon uncharacteristically mail in their performances here - it's clear they're merely going through the script's paces, hoping to be off-camera as soon Zackham sheepishly yells "Action?" And while Williams and the always-out-of-place Grace are merely distracting, it's the disappointment of seeing DeNiro behave so...old. His performance as the senior citizen Don is merely a decade-older version of Pat from Silver Linings Playbook, making us wonder when one of the greatest actors of our time will make one final gangster picture, rather than stoop to levels such as this.
Heigl's the only one who arrives on set with something other than dull to offer, until it's revealed that her ex-boyfriend whom she's pined for throughout the picture is rather dour and poorly put together. Zackman squanders what could have been an excellent cameo opportunity on She's Out of My League's Kyle Bornheimer, whose arrival takes every ounce of steam out of things. Seriously, one could hear a collective 'eeewww' emanate from the female representatives of our test audience as his unpolished self arrived to set the stage on fire. But a great cast needs a great script, and Zackman fails here as well. There's very little connection between his plethora of side-stories, which are poorly woven together and then hastily submitted in a 90-minute epic of malaise. As one implausible situation tumbles into another, one begins to wonder why more attention wasn't paid to the storytelling; this could have offered well-placed opportunities for comedy, instead of a series of poorly-conceived sexual gags surrounded by a thinly-veiled story.
The Big Wedding would have been funnier had it arrived before other ensemble films like Bridesmaids or Hangover; I'm sure there are still great stories of his kind left to be told, but this isn't one of them. Its empty and mailed-in performances overcome you like a party guest who's making an ass of himself while everyone's laughing because they're too uncomfortable to pull him aside. But more than anything, it makes you realize just how badly we need DeNiro in a real gangster movie before it's too late. And while not the worst movie of 2013 so far, it's just another throwaway that won't last past May. Skip this train wreck if you can. The Big Wedding is rated R for nudity and sexual situations and has a runtime of 90 minutes.
Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
Please Leave A Comment-