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Big Wedding, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Memo To Sarah: This One Sucks More Than We Feared"
1 stars

You know all those various permutations/rip-offs of the classic sci-fi/horror tale "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in which aliens from another world arrive on Earth and assume human form in order to blend in with varying degrees of success? Well, "The Big Wedding," although ostensibly not a genre item, feels for all the world like a sitcom-level story that has been populated entirely by such creatures even as they continue to struggle to demonstrate some shred of recognizable behavior. In fact, it not only seems to be about creatures from another world trying and largely failing to replicate the people whose bodies they have overtaken, it often feels as if it was made by such things as well because there I do not recall a single moment that I for one second believe was conceived or executed by a sentient human organism.

Ever since the trailer for this film was released last fall, "The Big Wedding" has been a punching bag in some circles, both for the general cruddiness of the material displayed in the preview and for the ridiculously high number of A-level talents who were somehow assembled to bring it to life. That trailer and the poster that accompanied it were indeed dreadful beyond measure (both looked like the kind of jokey things that one might in lesser comedies about the wacky world of Hollywood) but they hardly begin to fully conceptualize the horror that is this movie. Suffice it to say, there is an excellent chance that this may be the least funny film that any of its many participants have ever previously appeared in and bear in mind, members of its cast have been seen in such films as "United 93," "Dead Man Walking" and everything that Katherine Heigl has ever appeared in.

The premise--and bear in mind that I only report the plots, not make them up myself--is that ten years after getting a divorce, Ellie (Diane Keaton) has returned to the palatial estate where she used to live with her ex-husband, successful sculptor Don (Robert DeNiro), for the wedding of their adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) to the vacant pretty Missy (Amanda Seyfried). The only trouble is that Alejandro's birth mother (Patricia Rae), whom he has stayed in contact with, is flying in from Colombia for the first time to attend the wedding and since she is a devout Catholic, Alejandro has led her to believe that Ellie and Don are still married. No problem because Alejandro has the perfect solution--Ellie and Don will pretend to still be together for the weekend and Mom will not be the wiser.

Of course, there is one minor hitch and that is the fact that for the last decade, Don has been with Bebe (Susan Sarandon), who also used to be Ellie's best friend, and for this plan to work, she would have to make herself scarce for the wedding of the boy that she has helped to raise for the last several years. One might naturally assume that upon hearing this suggestion, Don and Ellie would inform Alejandro that it is they who have been raising him since he was a little boy and if Mom finds the notion of their divorce so offensive to her sensibilities, she can simply piss off and stay home. However, that would be a demonstration of that recognizable human behavior I mentioned earlier and before you can say "Hey, I thought this gimmick sucked in "La Cage aux Folles" and "The Birdcage" years ago," Don and Ellie slip into living a lie while Bebe hits the road, though she does return since she is helping to cater the event.

You might think this would be enough of an unlikely and implausible plot to satisfy the needs of a truly dreadful movie but "The Big Wedding" is thoughtful enough to supply a number of equally rancid subplots to help pad things out. For starters, Don and Ellie have two other children with their own problems. Estranged daughter Lyla (Katherine Heigl) is unable to have children, has just walked out on her husband and is carrying a big secret that I suspect you have already worked out for yourself. Meanwhile, son Jared (Topher Grace) is a dashing doctor who also happens to be a 30-year-old virgin still looking for true love.

Alejandro's mom brings her daughter (Ana Ayora) along for the ride and within five minutes of meeting him, it appears that she is about to retire Jared's title until Ellie inexplicably decides to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Missy's parents (David Rasche and Christine Ebersole) are embroiled in a financial scandal but don't let that get in the way of their barely disguised racism and the potential shame of their daughter marrying a Harvard grad whose skin is only slightly darker than Katherine Heigl's and giving birth to "beige" grandchildren. Hanging around on the sidelines to deliver failed comedic relief is Father Moinighan, who is played by Robin Williams and whose schtick could be compared to the Crusades both in age and the amount of horrifying devastation that it wreaks along the way. It all ends, not surprisingly, with everyone more or less getting the happy ending they deserve but for the audience, the only possible happy ending would be if it ended with a couple of odd young men in preppy clothes showing up and asking to borrow some eggs.

Spoiler Alert! The next paragraph may contain some acronym-based profanity.

WTF? Serious, WTF? Does any of this sound even remotely like the plot of a movie that one would voluntarily part with their money in order to see? These are the kind of dated and hackneyed sitcom premises that even the likes of "Whitney" or "According to Jim" would decline to pursue on the basis that they sounded way too hacky to be believed. I guess I am not surprised that writer-director Justin Zackham would slap together something so completely idiotic--this is, after all, the same guy who wrote the screenplay for the odious "The Bucket List." If you want a baseline as to how bad the film is, keep in mind that if I had to choose between seeing it or "The Bucket List" again, I might actually have to go with "The Bucket List" and those are words I never dreamed that I would ever write in my lifetime.

What is surprising, on the other hand, is that someone could have read this screenplay and agreed to provide the money necessary to bring it to life without being violently coerced in some unseemly manner. What is even more surprising is that a cast consisting of four Oscar winning stars and a number of popular younger performers would not only not fire their agents for allowing such a screenplay to get anywhere near them but decide that it was the perfect vehicle for their talents and a quick payday. These are nothing parts and that is exactly what the actors bring to them. In one stroke, for example, De Niro pisses away all of the goodwill he received for his comeback performance in "Silver Linings Playbook" with a turn that makes you long for the level of commitment that he brought to the likes of "Godsend" or "Righteous Kill."

His co-stars pretty much humiliate themselves as well throughout as they plod through the dregs they have been given. It gets so bad, in fact, that I actually found myself in the odd position of feeling sorry for Katherine Heigl--not my favorite performer--for the absolute crap that she have been given to work with here; even she deserves better. This is easily the most scandalous waste of on-screen talent since "Movie 43" and at least that movie inspired the kind of grim determination that made one want to stick it out to the end, if only to see how much worse it could get. Ten minutes into this one and I was all set to hack off my arm "127 Hours"-style in order to escape and I wasn't even pinned underneath anything but a mounting sense of dread.

At this point, some of the more forgiving souls out there may be wondering why I am hurling such invective at a film that is clearly being aimed at what one might call the Mom demographic--the same people who came out in relative droves for the likes of "Stepmom," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and their respective ilks. However, in what may be the most surprising aspect of the film, it turns out to be much raunchier that expected. Most of the dialogue is ridiculously vulgar--De Niro even gets to deploy the word that starts with a "C" and rhymes with what you do on 4th-and-15--without ever being especially clever or funny and the combination of the filthy dialogue with the well-scrubbed surroundings (the entire film looks like a Dove soap commercial) makes the whole thing feel like an issue of "Martha Stewart Living" that has been struck down with Tourette's Syndrome. Throw in plenty of sex talk and what might be the most gratuitous nude scene in the history of American cinema (even the one in "Airplane!" had more dramatic weight) and the end result is a film that I would be mortified to have seen with my mother and bear in mind, I once thought it would be a good idea to take her to see "Boogie Nights."

"The Big Wedding" is one of the worst movies I have ever seen--a monstrosity so devoid of wit, insight and believability that it makes something as otherwise loathsome as "Pain & Gain" seen palatable by comparison. And yet, my innate sense of fairness dictates that I mention that at the screening that I attended, the other two members of the audience (it was midnight, to be fair) were actually laughing all the way through. At first, I assumed they were being ironic but no, there we responding with glee to almost every unlikely, unfunny, unappetizing and unfunny moment on the screen. After a while, I began to think of one of the funniest jokes in the Mel Brooks classic "The Producers"--the bit where the "Springtime for Hitler" number has been performed for the first time and the one member of the otherwise stunned audience that applauds is beaten by the others around him. My advice to you is to just stay at home thinking about your favorite scene from "The Producers" and skip "The Big Wedding" entirely. Trust me, you will be glad that you did.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=22840&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/26/13 16:25:10
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User Comments

8/01/13 Suzie Williams Surprisingly found it pretty funny. Wasn't expecting much so that may be why I liked it. 3 stars
5/08/13 allyson becker little drab and boring, would not recommend. 3 stars
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  26-Apr-2013 (R)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2013


  DVD: 13-Sep-2013

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