ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Bucket List" and “Meet The Fockers”
On paper, "The Big Wedding" should have been a big deal. Although there certainly have been instances of high profile ensemble movies turning out to be disappointing messes, writer/director Justin Zackham's track record with the pen for "The Bucket List" nearly hit the mark of how to capitalise on major talents to maximum effect. Now standing at the helm with an even bigger cast for "The Big Wedding", all eyes are waiting to see if Zackham is ready to go as far as the talents at his disposal can take him.
Alejandro (Ben Barnes), the adopted son of divorced couple Don (Robert De Niro) and Elle (Diane Keaton) is getting married to Missy (Amanda Seyfried); the daughter from an uppity white family. As the titular event approaches, the couple-to-be are excited that Alejandro's biological mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae) from Columbia, is coming to attend the wedding ceremony but a realisation hits Alejandro. As a conservative Catholic, Madonna is sure to disapprove about the broken status of Don and Elle's marriage and to make matters even worse is that Bebe (Susan Sarandon); long-time girlfriend of Don and best friend to Elle, is now staying with them. In order to gain Madonna's blessing for the marriage, Alejandro pleads to Don and Elle to pretend that their marriage is still intact for the sake of appearance, but this turns Bebe into unintentional collateral.
Adapted from the 2006 French satire comedy "Mon frère se marie", Zackham dilutes the amusing but not unheard of premise down to its harmless comedy aspects with barely any of its satirical traces for "The Big Wedding". What Zackham is going for here is a light white upperclass family comedy with the most atrocious sins being moments of moral and emotional indecency, with the sorting out of family secrets and drama being interpreted to be familial love.
The inevitable question about "The Big Wedding" is the cast. While the plot stems from the big wedding of Alejandro and Missy, the bulk of its development centres on the complicated relationship between Don, Elle, and Bebe as they try to come to terms and re-examine their relationship. If there was any hope or dream that this would be the perfect stage for any of the A-list actors to stoop to the level of gross-out acts of humour that have recently become popular in dysfunctional comedies, then you would be sorely disappointed. Except for a relatively mild barf, there is no climatic hysterics that involves any unseemly fluids except for freshwater.
Although playing it safe means that neither of these actors make an effort to give an outstanding performance, it would be unthinkable if Oscar heavyweights, De Niro, Keaton and Sarandon would fail to deliver and their chemistry comes so naturally that it makes them suited to do most of the heavy lifting. Even though De Niro has to pull double duty to resolve his own arc as a sobering and failing sculptor who can't decide which woman he loves, the routine banter between all three characters is reason enough to enjoy this movie as long as you can accept its docile narrative and resolution.
Topher Grace and Katherine Heigl are kept busy with their own subplots as the brother and sister to Alejandro respectively. Grace's maternal doctor whose 15-year long virginity pledge is starting to waiver, especially after meeting with Alejandro's rapturous biological sister, Nuria (Ana Ayora), shaves off some of the screentime but goes on more as a predictable distraction.
On the other hand, Heigl's sharp tongued lawyer Lyla carries more dramatic baggage, as her marriage has hit the rocks after her efforts to conceive had driven a wedge between her and her husband Andrew (Kyle Bornheimer). This is further complicated by her love-hate relationship with her father that adds another dimension to her character and De Niro's, that gets entangled in the sticky situation that the family has gotten itself in.
Amandra Seyfried and Ben Barnes as the married couple-to-be mostly takes the backseat with few amusing moments, but even that rarely happens without being surrounded by the other characters, including Missy's superficial parents played by David Rasche and Christina Ebersole, as their walls of secrets start to crumble with the approach of the big day,
Robin Williams' presiding Catholic priest Father Moinighan is probably one of Williams' less animated characters, but his appearance is enjoyed more like an extended cameo than a major part of the soft humour, though the same could not be said for Patricia Rae's turn as the assumingly saintly straight-faced biological mother.
What "The Big Wedding" feels in the end is a competently made 89-minute long comedy sketch that snugly fits into the hole of mediocrity with no ambition; an unfortunate marriage between an infallible and vastly talented cast that isn't allowed to reach its greatest potential with a director and writer who rather plays it safe, cheap and easily forgettable by the first wedding anniversary.Cinema Online, 16 August 2013