The Big Wedding
I saw this movie, so you don’t have to
The Big Wedding is a special romantic comedy. It is a movie so vapid, so devoid of genuine emotion and so mind-numbingly dull that it is, in actuality, an achievement in bad filmmaking. After a few minutes of this dreck, you begin to wonder whether or not this movie is in fact some elaborate prank. It must be acknowledged that writer/director Justin Zackham (Going Greek) has accomplished the impossible: he’s found a way to fracture time, making this 90-minute film feel like it stretches into infinity.
The story follows Don (Robert De Niro: Silver Linings Playbook) and Ellie (Diane Keaton: Darling Companion), a divorced couple reuniting for the wedding of their adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes: The Words). Don and Ellie parted ways when Don began cheating on Ellie with her best friend Bebe (Susan Sarandon: Snitch).
Already tense, the situation becomes worse when Alejandro announces to Don and Ellie that his biological mother is visiting from Colombia. Because Mama’s a conservative Catholic, Alejandro fibbed to her and led her to believe that Don and Ellie were still blissfully married. Now this ungrateful boy wants to kick his father’s girlfriend out of her own home and have his mother and father play the happy couple.
Instead of refusing the brat’s request and insisting Alejandro tell his mother the truth, Don and Ellie play along. Bebe moves out of Don’s bedroom, and Ellie moves in. Immediately, Don suggests he and Ellie have sex — you know, to alleviate the tension.
Can Ellie and Don get through the weekend without killing each other? Will their romance rekindle? Can this family have a conversation that doesn’t end with Don getting punched in the face? Why would anyone ever put up with Don and his creepy, lecherous shenanigans?
Who cares? Based on a French farce, The Big Wedding is a litany of unfunny jokes, poor acting and dubious plotting. With family this horrid, one wonders why Alejandro didn’t elope.
Most of the characters’ storylines are so devoid of characterization, they defy logic. Topher Grace plays Jared, an OBGYN who’s a virgin and wants to wait for love, at least until he sees Alejandro’s biological sister naked. Judging from his reaction, he’s never seen a naked woman before, making his medical degree even more impressive.
When female characters are confronted with infidelity, shocking family secrets or awkward situations, they need only scream incoherently for a few moments and hit someone. This hysterical performance immediately allows them to get over their emotions and move on. None of them hold grudges, none of them seem to even remember the reason they were upset in the first place. I began to wonder if there was some sort of endemic of short-term memory loss affecting the female population of New England.
Though none of the characters have anything resembling a reasonable personality or internal life, the portrayal of the Colombian characters is especially disconcerting. Alejandro is portrayed by British-born Barnes, who prepared for his role by getting a fake, orange-sheened tan. The actual Latino actors don’t fare much better. Alejandro’s mother is presented as a shrewish religious nut, while his sister is a hot-blooded Latin stereotype so insulting you begin to wonder if director Zackham’s only experience with Latin-American imagery is a Chiquita Banana commercial.
Though The Big Wedding is a terrible film, its worst crime is what it does to its impressive cast of actors. Legends of the silver screen like Keaton, Sarandon and De Niro are reduced to sad paycheck performances. Keaton yips her lines out like an over-caffeinated Chihuahua, De Niro leers and shuffles through each scene as if he’s starring in the world’s creepiest Viagra commercial and Sarandon shows enthusiasm only when she’s allowed to exit a scene. With each line, you can see them tallying up their next house payment. None of them have any spark or interest in the material they’re reciting.
This weekend, if you want to see a movie, you’d be better off watching the concession stand for two hours than buying a ticket to The Big Wedding.