5/2/2013 - Zany hijinks are in store for a couple just looking to get hitched in The Big Wedding, a complete and total failure of a movie.
Let’s be clear: This is not a “sorry, your taillight is out so I can’t pass your inspection” kind of failure. This is an “I had to call the junkyard because your car was a public safety hazard and the wheels had rusted in place” kind of failure.
Alejandro (Ben Barnes), adopted son of the divorced couple Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton), is marrying Missy (Amanda Seyfried, who apparently just has wedding dress, will travel). Attending his wedding will be his biological mother from Colombia, Madonna (Patricia Rae). Though you’d think a Harvard grad might have heard a thing or two about Catholicism at some point before this (or, you know, watched one episode of The Tudors), Alejandro is shocked to learn, while at pre-cana classes with Missy, that Catholics — get this — don’t like divorce.
After learning this from Father Stunt-Casting (Robin Williams), Alejandro decides that the way to assure his mother that his adopted parents have given him a great life is not just to point to his Harvard degree but to make them pretend to be married while his mother is around. This means that Don and Ellie’s other adult children, Jared (Topher Grace) and Lyla (Katherine Heigl), will also have to go with the wacky scheme, as will Missy’s anachronistically racist parents, Barry (David Rasche) and Muffin (Christine Ebersole). And then there’s Bebe (Susan Sarandon), Ellie’s former best friend and Don’s current flame. She now lives with Don in the lake house he and Ellie built together and will have to move out to keep up the happy-family deception.
Even a plot this moronic can’t make a movie a miserable failure all on its own, so lending a hand we also have some awful subplots:
(1) Jared is portrayed as a charming doctor but is also a nearly 30-year-old virgin. There is no good reason for this, and the movie doesn’t do anything particularly interesting with it other than use it as an excuse for him to be relentlessly horny for Alejandro’s biological sister, Nuria (Ana Ayora).
(2) Because there are federal laws that require Katherine Heigl to be a sour-faced killjoy in every movie she’s in, here her problems include a bad relationship with her father Don, infertility and a crumbling marriage.
(3) Ellie may or may not still like Don, depending on what scene she’s in. (No, not in a “people are complex” way; more in a “this script was the result of a game of Telephone” way.)
(4) Don is an artist who, now that he’s sober, can’t sculpt anything that doesn’t look like some kind of joke-figurine and is — and this is true whether he’s on or off the wagon — an unpleasant ass.
But wait! There are even more reasons to hate this crazy mess of a movie:
• Every single joke is terrible.
• Because this is a lake house, yes, people do indeed fall into the lake. How original!
• Diane Keaton. (That fluttery spazzy thing she does Is Not Cute. It’s infantilizing and grating.)
• The Madonna (literally!)-vs.-whore battle of female Latin stereotypes.
• The plot point in the Jared/Nuria story line that features Diane Keaton telling Nuria not to give it up to Dr. Love unless he does a bunch of stuff for her (roses, breakfast in bed, poetry). Then, later, she makes a joke about how that represents “women’s lib.” Nuria had previously expressed the opinion that she was on vacation and just wanted to have a good time. Not to get all third-wave feminism, but isn’t that closer to “women’s lib” than some garbage about poetry? Also, “women’s lib”? What, did a wormhole open to Annie Hall?
The Big Wedding is shocking in its artlessness, in how hackneyed and unoriginal every facet of this movie is and in how it nonetheless got actual actors to get out of bed, find their car keys and show up on the set. Unless The Big Wedding was a movie made as a cover while the cast and crew were actually planning an elaborate bank heist, this movie is most remarkable only for what a colossal waste of effort it is. F
Rated R for language, sexual content and brief nudity. Directed by Justin Zackman with a screenplay by Zackman (from a French film by Jean-Stephan Bron and Karine Sudan), The Big Wedding tries your patience for what feels like an infinity but is only actually an hour and a half and is distributed by Lionsgate.