Jan 25, 2015

Review: The Big Wedding (2013)

I hate lazy ensemble cast movies with a passion, like everyone else I should think and I should hope. There's something so inherently wrong to me about gathering a bunch of big Hollywood names who have done good work in the past and getting them to work with a lame script. It's like a Ponzi scheme. Trick people with the promise that they'll be in for a good time because the movie has a bunch of great actors and then take their money. I mean, do Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton really need to add onto their terrible recent filmographies anyway? 

The Big Wedding is interestingly enough a remake of the French/Swiss film Mon frère se marie which was written and directed by Jean-Stéphane Bron. Less a comedy and more of a drama, I wonder what he must've thought when he was initially approached to have his film remade? There's a price for everything though, even corruption of one's work.


Genre: comedy
Directed by: Justin Zackham
Produced by: Anthony Katagas, Clay Pecorin, Richard Salvatore, etc.
Written by: Justin Zackham
Music by: Nathan Barr
Running time: 89 minutes
Production company: Two Ton Films, Millennium Films
Distributed by: Lionsgate, E1 Films Canada, Concorde Filmverleih, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English, Spanish, Latin
Budget: $35,000,000
Box office: $21,819,348 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Christine Ebersole, Patricia Rae, Ana Ayora, Kyle Bornheimer, David Rasche, Megan Ketch, Christa Campbell, Ian Blackman, Shana Dowdeswell



Don Griffin (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton) were married for twenty years before they divorced some years ago. With three kids, one being adopted, they've still managed to be a family despite Don entering a relationship with Ellie's best friend Bebe McBride (Susan Sarandon). Their adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) is getting married to Melissa O'Connor soon (Amanda Seyfried) and it turns out that Alejandro's ultra-Catholic birth mother (Patricia Rae) will be making an appearance. This could become a problem since he's never told his mother that his adoptive parents divorced, leading to some hasty decisions to hide the fact.


The thing that struck me right away with The Big Wedding was its unhealthy obsession with sex and its constant barrage of swearing. It's clearly a movie that's trying to be both grown up and edgy, but fails to be either. I can't even begin to describe just how embarrassingly childish the way sex is used as comedy in TBW. The excessive swearing also feels unnaturally forced since it is.

There are many scenes that are meant to be awkward, but are only awkward because of how terribly performed and poorly written they scenes are. I felt so embarrassed for Diane Keaton in the early goings of the film as she arrives in Don and Ellie's home unannounced just before they are about to engage in some adult activities. It was awkward in all the wrong ways and is a perfect indicator of what was to come in this excuse of a comedy film. I knew then that I would need to don my work pants for this one.

Since Alejandro's mother Madonna can't speak English, you know that some miscommunication-type comedy is on the way. It's not something that works very well here and the religious angle of Madonna being super Catholic and the Griffins not really being anything doesn't either. There's not one joke in TBW that made me crack a smile unless it was in derision. 

Madonna also inexplicably disappears for some of the most climactic scenes in the movie where a lot of dirty laundry had just been aired. Never do we actually even see her reaction. Where did she go? She literally only reappears when it comes time to resolve everything all nice and clean-like and I don't get it. 

Curious about the state of Robert De Niro in this one? I guess on life support is probably the best way to describe his performance. If you wanted to see De Niro sleep walk through scenes where he's drunk, has some dramatic conversations with his daughter and delivers an uplifting speech about love then this is the movie to see. It's just sad seeing a man who turned in some of the best performances in cinema history be content turning in such garbage these days.

The only other main problem with The Big Wedding is quite simply its inability in sustaining any sort of believable drama. The script makes some pretty poor efforts at trying to drum up some sympathy for Katherine Heigl's character in particular. Justin Zackham never should've even tried if you ask me. (Spoilers) Of course, it's no surprise that everything gets resolved at the end without a single problem. (End Spoilers

Also, who on earth decided that Ben Barnes would be the best choice to play an adopted Colombian? Not that he commits any big crimes or anything, but surely there were some genuine Latino actors who could've been cast for the role. His character is so forgettable anyway so I guess it doesn't really matter who was cast. Had Replace Alejandro been replaced with a potato, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

So what's the big surprise in The Big Wedding? Well believe it or not, Robin Williams was able to turn in an OK performance against all odds. He did that despite the fact that being in TBW is comparable to being in a giant dumpster full of rotting, burning garbage, populated by mutant garbage beings trying to suck your soul. I was certainly impressed anyway. Take it from me though, you're better watching a broken VHS tape in a broken VCR than watching The Big Wedding. Or at least watch Mon frère se marie instead.



Related Reviews:

Mon frère se marie (2006)