With Robert DeNiro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Ben Barnes. Written and directed by Justin Zackham. Rated R for language, sexual content and brief nudity. 90 minutes.
At the sneak preview for THE BIG WEDDING, viewers were advised not to try to record the movie. If there were any lawbreakers in the audience attempting to do so, guaranteed they were erasing the recording on the way home. This train wreck of a movie makes one wonder what kind of salacious info writer/director Justin Zackham has for blackmail purposes to get a cast like this to agree to appear in a movie this bad.
The opening scene sets the tone. Ellie (Diane Keaton) has returned home for the wedding of Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and Missy (Amanda Seyfried). Alejandro is the son she had adopted with her ex-husband Don (Robert DeNiro). She slips into the house she once shared with Don who does not see her when he comes in with Bebe (Susan Sarandon), her former best friend who now lives with Don. He begins to perform oral sex on her until Ellie makes her presence known.
Laughing yet? Or are you supremely embarrassed? The film quickly goes downhill from there. The two other adult children, Lyla (Katherine Heigl) and Jared (Topher Grace), have their own issues. Lyla has just left her husband and seems to get ill at the sight of babies. Jared is a successful doctor who, nearing 30, is still a virgin because he’s been holding out for true love. There’s more, much more, but the key plot element supposedly driving this attempted farce is that Alejandro’s very traditional Catholic mother from Colombia – who gave him up for adoption so he could have a better life in the United States – will be attending the wedding and she believes that Ellie and Don are still married. They are soon pretending to be so, even though Bebe is the one who is catering the wedding. Hilarity does not ensue.
If all this doesn’t signal how horribly unfunny all this is, consider the arrival of Robin Williams as Father Moinighan. The last time he played a cleric, in an equally failed comedy, was in the 2007 film “License To Wed.” Note to future filmgoers: if the usually talented Williams is wearing a clerical collar, go running in the opposite direction.
What were they thinking? Based on a French film that apparently has never been released here, this is a movie about self-absorbed twits. At the rehearsal dinner, Alejandro’s Colombian sister (Ana Ayora) decides to come on to Jared by unzipping his fly and fondling him under the table. When Don and Ellie have to spend the night together, naturally they ending up having sex. The next morning Don is bragging about how he was “laying pipe” for 40 minutes.
Justin Zackham, who wrote “The Bucket List,” does a disservice to cast and to the audience with his screenplay and direction here. Ironically, Katherine Heigl, who has a number of cinematic crimes of her own to answer for, comes off best here, perhaps because her character is the least cartoonish of the lot. She can’t save the movie on her own, but perhaps there is hope for her in the future.
However, one has to report that there is no hope for anyone unfortunate enough to attend “The Big Wedding.”•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s A Secret: A Novel About Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide has just been released. He teaches at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.