Published Apr 26, 2013Anyone who's been subjected to one of Garry Marshall's debacles, set against the backdrop of an inconsequential holiday, would be able to provide fair warning when it comes to Hollywood comedies rife with talented actors. That's why it's no surprise to find that The Big Wedding is a sub-standard sitcom masquerading as a feature film, a glorified excuse to have legends of the screen rub elbows with each other while yukking it up with some of the younger generation.
Because a wedding is as good an excuse as Flag Day to bring together a group of broad, one-note characters, we meet everyone as they prepare for the nuptials of Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and Missy (Amanda Seyfried). With his adoptive parents, Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton), being long-divorced, Don's new girlfriend, Bebe (Susan Sarandon), has served as something of a second (or third) mother to him. When Alejandro's strictly religious biological mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae), arrives, it provides the opportunity to milk laughs from Don and Ellie having to pretend they are still a couple.
If those weren't already enough characters and complications, there are also sub-plots for both of Alejandro's adopted siblings: Jared (Topher Grace) and Lyla (Katherine Heigl). The former has reached the cusp of 30 with his virginity still intact, while the latter has recently become estranged from her partner due to struggles with infertility. Even the stunt casting of Robin Williams as a priest is employed, despite the fact that this was already attempted, to poor comic effect, in the abysmal License To Wed.
There's little regard for anything resembling logic or consequence, with priority placed instead on a high volume of forced jokes revolving around sex, people falling into water and De Niro saying inappropriate things (which is sadly the best thing found here). Assuming incorrectly that all of this failed hilarity would be better digested were it grounded with some sort of emotional backbone, characters are occasionally split into pairs for saccharine scenes where hearts are bared and some kind of hollow understanding is reached.
Actors of this calibre can be forgiven for wanting to let loose and be part of a fun ensemble picture, with perhaps part of the appeal being that no one is forced to shoulder the bulk of the blame. Next time, they may want to enlist the talents of someone other than writer/director Justin Zackham, whose last directorial effort was sophomoric college movie Going Greek, more than ten years ago.
This is the rare instance where the making-of featurette on the DVD/BR will likely be better than the film. (eOne)