Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
April 25, 2013
0.5 stars (out of four)
A comedy that provokes only sadness, “The Big Wedding” features several stars that a casting agent would hire if trying to exact revenge on me personally. So no, I didn't go into “The Big Wedding” expecting much. Any critic who claims pure objectivity for a wedding-related romp co-starring Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams and Diane Keaton and written/directed by the writer of “The Bucket List,” should not be trusted with words, sharp objects or heavy machinery.
Like Adam Sandler's hideous “Just Go With It,” “The Big Wedding” Americanizes a French story with the grace of a croque-monsieur that involves spraying Cheez Whiz on a Slim Jim. It's also quite racist, beginning with the backstory of Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Keaton) adopting a Colombian boy (Ben Barnes, who is British) named Alejandro mostly so Don can eventually say “Mi casa es whatever” while barely trying to communicate to Alejandro's Spanish-speaking biological mother Madonna (Patricia Rae). Note: Some people in the theater laughed when Don mentioned he and his (now ex-) wife adopted Alejandro. It's horrifying that anyone considered that a joke.
Madonna comes to the states because Alejandro is marrying Missy (Amanda Seyfried). However, writer-director Justin Zackham seems intent on writing a wedding comedy that includes no one thinking about or stressing over the actual details of the wedding. (Other than Alejandro having to fake it with the also-racist priest, played by Williams in a rehash of the abysmal “License to Wed.”) Instead, Lyla (Heigl) mocks Missy's parents' racism but then declares, “Who do you have to lynch for a Cosmo around here?” without any trace of irony.
Having waited until 29 to lose his virginity, Lyla's brother Jared (Topher Grace) lucks out when Alejandro's gorgeous, 20-year-old sister Nuria (Ana Ayora) comes to town and within minutes dives butt-naked into the lake and proposes sex. Despite her later revoking this offer, the character exists only as a one-dimensional fantasy who either will or won't give it up.
Elsewhere, Don blurts out the c-word yet refers to sex as “make whoopsie.” He--spoiler alert, if you really care--cheats on his girlfriend (Susan Sarandon) with his ex-wife, a la “It's Complicated.” De Niro's grumpy shtick earns a few laughs, but mostly “The Big Wedding,” which is destined to be foolishly ordered by lonely hotel guests, just embarrasses everyone involved. The film ultimately shrugs off several of its main conflicts and treats sex like a gigging class of 11-year-olds would. Scenes are constantly rushed, as if the folks onscreen can't wait to leave.
The film was delayed from the fall, presumably so if the Mayan apocalypse really hit, the cast could have a silver lining.
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