Movie review: 'Big Wedding': Unhappily ever after

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRERApril 26, 2013 

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Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton star in “The Big Wedding,” a screwball romp missing a few screws.

BARRY WETCHER

  • THE BIG WEDDING

    ••

    Rated: R for language, sexual content and brief nudity. Starring: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton . Director: Justin Zackham. Running time: 90 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 22 and Edwards 9 in Boise, Edwards 14 and Edwards 12 in Nampa, Majestic 18 in Meridian.

"Marriage is like a phone call late at night," Robert De Niro says, in dulcet voice-over mode, at the outset of "The Big Wedding." "First comes the ring, and then you wake up."

Rimshot, please.

Except in Justin Zackham's sedated farce, there are no rimshots. The jokes are just splayed out there, accompanied by the strums of a guitar on the soundtrack.

Adapted from a 2006 French comedy, and boasting a cross-generational cast of daunting and not-so daunting stature, "The Big Wedding" throws up a messy web of relationships, a tangle of siblings and spouses, lovers and lunatics, intersecting in illicit and illogical ways.

In order to pull off this sort of business, the pace should be breakneck, there shouldn't be an extra second to contemplate the moral lapses and betrayals. Alas, "The Big Wedding," which inches along like a stoned snail, gives us all the time in the world.

Don and Ellie Griffin (De Niro and Diane Keaton) are a long-divorced couple whose adopted son, Alejandro (Ben Barnes), is about to be married - to Amanda Seyfried's Missy. Don, a sculptor (and an apparently successful one: his house comes with a pool and overlooks a lake), lives with Bebe (Susan Sarandon), who was once Ellie's best friend.

Although Don and Bebe aren't married, she is like a loving stepmom to Don and Ellie's kids - Jared (Topher Grace), a closing-in-on-30 doctor who's still a virgin; Lyla (Kathryn Heigel), a brooder who has just broken up with her beau; and Alejandro, who originally hailed from Colombia, and who has invited his biological mother (Patricia Rae) to the wedding.

Alejandro fears that she is too conservative and devout a woman to accept that his adoptive parents have divorced, so he convinces them to act as though they're still together. Which leaves Bebe out in the cold - although not out of the picture, since her company is catering the wedding.

No one is bad in "The Big Wedding," but no one is remotely believable, either. Late in the game, Alejandro's Colombian mother cracks wise that all of this is like some crazy telenovella plot, and it is. Which is all fine and good in a screwball romp, but not here.

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