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The Big Wedding' should be annulled

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Romantic comedy neither loving nor funny

On paper, an all-star cast makes a lot of sense. It would stand to reason that when you bring a lot of diverse talents together in the same place, something good would happen. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way.

Whether it's a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen, conflicting egos or a simple lack of real commitment from some (or all) of the cast, these collections of well-known film stars almost always fall a bit flat.

Feel free to add 'The Big Wedding' to the list of misfires.

The film adapted by writer/director Justin Zackham from a French film stars Robert DeNiro ('Silver Linings Playbook') as Don, an inexplicably well-to-do sculptor who serves as patriarch of a quirky family. Years ago, he divorced his wife Ellie (Diane Keaton, 'Darling Companion') and took up with her best friend Bebe (Susan Sarandon, 'Snitch'). 

This has generated tension amongst Don and Ellie's kids lawyer Lyla (Katherine Heigl, 'One for the Money'), doctor Jared (Topher Grace, 'Take Me Home Tonight') and their adopted Columbian son Alejandro (Ben Barnes, 'The Words'). 

Alejandro is preparing to marry Missy (Amanda Seyfried, 'Les Miserables'), his childhood friend and daughter to friends of Don and Ellie, so the whole family is coming together again for the wedding at the family home. However, things are about to get complicated; Alejandro's biological mother is coming to town for the wedding and she doesn't believe in divorce.

Thus, a ridiculous plan is hatched: Don and Ellie are going to pretend to still be married in order to placate Alejandro's extremely Catholic mother. As you might imagine, it doesn't take long for all the familial weirdness to spring up. We watch as the wedding weekend descends into chaos as the entire family struggles to find a way to reconnect for the sake of the special day of one of their own.

'The Big Wedding' has plenty of big problems, but perhaps the biggest is the fact that the entire film is populated with characters that are both absurd and unlikeable. DeNiro squints and curses his way toward another paycheck apparently, artistic success is rooted in goofy haircuts and crassness. Keaton and Sarandon are inexplicably civil considering the circumstances of their relationship. Heigl is her typically unpleasant self, while Grace is amiably bland and inoffensive (which might make him the best thing in the movie). 

The rest of the cast is equally at sea Barnes and Seyfried are a pair of deer in headlights, with little chemistry and less of a clue. And Robin Williams is here playing a priest because of course he is.

These are terrible people making ridiculous decisions. There's no real chance to invest in the well-being of the characters; they're awful and the choices they make don't make a lick of sense. It isn't easy to make a movie where every action is both calculated and chaotic, but 'The Big Wedding' somehow manages.

My wife put it thusly: the movie jumps the shark in every scene. I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but she's absolutely right. With each moment of compounded ludicrousness, 'The Big Wedding' straps on the water skis and soars over that shark, leather jacket and all. It just continues to get stupider and stupider with each passing moment.

There's a general lack of connection between everyone involved; you can almost see each of the actors counting the minutes until they can get off the set and cash their checks. When none of the relationships click in a film that is supposed to be built on relationships, you've got some problems.

'The Big Wedding' manages to completely dilute the not-inconsiderable charisma of its multiple stars, leaving us with a romantic comedy that is woefully short on both comedy and romance. 

1 out of 5

2 comments

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