film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Big Wedding 2013 * * 1/2 Stars

Director: Justin Zackham
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 stars
Cast: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon

As I sat in the theater a few months ago, I saw a trailer for what I believe to be a fun Spring release with a big name cast (heck, two of them were in The Godfather Part II). Added to that, I guess wedding season is coming up (I'm not married but I did look it up) so I figured this film was being put in theaters at just the right time. Now that I have viewed what is a true exercise in scatterbrain utopia, I'm realizing all along that a bunch of stars involved in any type of movie, or should I say, in any type of movie genre, doesn't guarantee greatness. Granted, I was entertained by little snippets here and there, but I thought to myself, am I watching a movie or am I just viewing dailies. I couldn't really tell ya to be honest. 

With this major gray area fluttering through my brain, I did however become enamored by the plot (or idea of a plot). It seemed original and sort of refreshing (so many films about weddings seem so arbitrary). It goes like this: Don Griffin (played emphatically by Robert De Niro) has an adopted son who plans on getting married in the next couple of days. His adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes), brings his biological mother all the way from Columbia to attend his wedding. Added to that, his biological mother believes that marriage is sacred and that no one should ever ever get divorced. This forces De Niro's character to pretend to be married to his ex-wife (Ellie Griffin played by Diane Keaton) for the remainder of the weekend in which the wedding occurs. So you see, there is a storyline here. It's too bad that the execution is so darn sloppy.

So not to be confused with one of Robert De Niro's earliest films, The Wedding Party (1969), I am reviewing The Big Wedding which is not so much of a movie as it is a bunch of individual scenes crammed together inside all of 89 minutes. There are some funny moments and Bob's character is a riot (he plays the ultimate ladies man/lousy ex-husband and father), but along with him, there are far too many other subplots and adult situations to keep up with. What's worse, the film jumps back and forth in no particular order to established these subplots and throw at the audience, the chaos everyone is going through. This all happens all in the course of maybe a day or two. And it all happens at, you guessed it, a wedding and the pre-wedding festivities.

What we have here with this blatant misfire, is that it's the type of vehicle that feels like it starts in the middle. Some movies do a somewhat of an effective job at portraying this. Common movie going knowledge says you have to figure out what has already happened in your imagination and try to keep up with the continuum of what is already going on. The Big Wedding sadly, is not one of those types of movies. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why certain characters were mad at each other or resented each other (if you want to know what I'm talking about, pay attention to Katherine Heigl's character, Lyla Griffin). Also, I got annoyed by a lot of scenes where the whole cast were feverishly trading dialogue with one another. It felt like they didn't talk to each other (or look each other in the eye) but kinda talked just to be heard. Or better yet, the banter between them in most scenes gave me the feeling that they were literally caught in a different movie all together. There were a couple of examples of this but mainly, you have to watch the sequence where the whole family is having lunch on the patio of their big Connecticut house. It almost looked like everyone's speaking parts were filmed individually. For the sake of all the crew who probably worked very hard on The Big Wedding, I'll just admit that I might be exaggerating.

All things considered, The Big Wedding has a couple of amusing moments (I can't get the image out of my head of De Niro lighting up and smoking two cigarettes at once) and it's an hour and a half of mindless fun. It's probably worth a poultry 5-7 bucks for a matinee showing. But really, if you go into the theatre thinking you're watching an actual movie, then you're in for a "big" disappointment.

Written by Jesse Burleson

1 comment:

  1. I want to see this movie just for the cast, as I am fans of them all. Great review and well written.