Release Date: April 26, 2013
Director: Justin Zackham
Screenwriter: Justin Zackham
Starring: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Ben Barnes, Christine Ebersole, David Rasche, Patricia Rae, Ana Ayora
Genre: Comedy, Romance
MPAA Rating: R (for language, sexual content and brief nudity)
Review: 7.5/10 rating
With an all-star cast led by Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, with Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams, “The Big Wedding” is an uproarious romantic comedy about a charmingly modern family trying to survive a weekend wedding celebration that has the potential to become a full blown family fiasco. To the amusement of their adult children and friends, long divorced couple Don and Ellie Griffin (De Niro and Keaton) are once again forced to play the happy couple for the sake of their adopted son’s wedding after his ultra conservative biological mother unexpectedly decides to fly halfway across the world to attend. With all of the wedding guests looking on, the Griffins are hilariously forced to confront their past, present and future – and hopefully avoid killing each other in the process.
“The Big Wedding” seems to be following in the footsteps of the recent Hollywood romantic comedies – gather as many big name stars as you can and put them all in a romantic comedy storyline. It’s the best of the bunch, even though that’s not saying anything at all. It’s also based on a French film “Mon frère se marie”, and that’s not really saying all that much either.
Any description of the plot is just going to read as a listing of who’s who of Hollywood. But let’s do it anyways: We have the patriarch and matriarchs (Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon); we have the up-and-comers excited for their big day (Ben Barnes and Amanda Seyfried); and then we have the middle siblings who have had their time in the spotlight and are starting to fade away (Topher Grace and Katherine Heigl).
The wedding revolves around lies (obviously) and religion – with Robin Williams as the drunken Catholic priest. And it also includes lots and lots of sex jokes. The surprising thing that audiences are taking away from this film, especially in spite of the decidedly negative critics’ responses, is that it is hilarious. Fans of the film will find themselves laughing from beginning to end. But to give you fair warning, all of the jokes are sexually-based, and I mean all of them.
Laughing at the Catholic stigma of don’t have sex but if you do, don’t be safe; laughing at people who have too much sex; laughing at people who don’t have sex; and worse of all, laughing at divorced and married couples who have sex with one another. While some of the jokes were funny, they’re also responsible for creating the uneasy dynamic amongst the characters – all of whom are family (or, at least, are about to become in-laws). At times the film crosses the line from funny dysfunctional family to repulsive dysfunctional family.
The one line that “The Big Wedding” straddles well is that between comedy and drama. The film is effective when it moves from funny jokes to touching family honesty and back to some more funny jokes. The story lines are very predictable, and sometimes the jokes are too simple and too wrong, but it tries to add in the right amount of drama, and ultimately, it should be entertaining to fans of the genre.