The Big Wedding
Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon wasted in this paper-thin romcom
In the opening monologue of The Big Wedding, Don (Robert De Niro) compares marriage to a phone call in the night; ‘first you get the ring, then you wake up’. This line typifies the cynical and not-particularly-amusing brand of humour in The Bucket List writer Justin Zackham‘s comedy, adapted from Jean-Stéphane Bron’s 2006 film My Brother is Getting Married.
The senior roles have attracted an overqualified team; De Niro plays the errant patriarch, hopped up on booze and Viagra. Don’s ex-wife is Ellie (Diane Keaton), but he lives with his current squeeze Bebe (Susan Sarandon). All three expect to be loving parents at the wedding of adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and Missy (Amanda Seyfried), while watching from the wings are sex-starved brother Jared (Topher Grace) and broody sister Lyla (Katherine Heigl).The initial complication is that Alphonso’s mother turns out to be a devout Catholic, and so Don decides to pretend he is still married to Ellie, leaving Bebe to pretend to be the wedding’s caterer in order to keep tabs on proceedings.
Zackham’s first significant film as director features a set up similar to The Birdcage, but The Big Wedding never attempts to milk laughs out of anything but broad slapstick (Heigl vomits over De Niro) or crude stereotypes (Alejandro’s sister Nuria is a sultry sexpot who strips naked at the drop of a hat). It’s a measure of The Big Wedding’s failure to offer any amusing comment on upper classes mores that the freshest element is the familiar mugging of Robin Williams as an irreverent Catholic priest who Don grudgingly respects from their three trips to Alcoholics Anonymous together.
While it’s nice to see talents like Keaton and Sarandon in The Big Wedding, it’s ultimately frustrating seeing their talents wasted in Zackham’s paper-thin excuse for a rom-com.