"“People either need to stop getting married, or stop making films about getting married, and if it takes the first to dispose of the latter, then so be it.”"
Last year us faithful filmgoers had to endure some pretty awful comedies about weddings, and sadly, it seems that 2013 has continued in much of the same vein. If you want some form of reference, Justin Zackham's The Big Wedding is not quite as good as The Wedding Video, but it's somewhat better than The Knot. People either need to stop getting married, or stop making films about getting married, and if it takes the first to dispose of the latter, then so be it.
When adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) prepares for his wedding to the beautiful Missy (Amanda Seyfried), what he hasn't taken into account is his adopted mother – and strict catholic (Patricia Rae), will also be in attendance and won't be pleased with his parents divorce. So the groom manages to persuade his father Don (Robert De Niro) and mother Ellie (Diane Keaton) to pretend to be back together, in spite of the former's long-term partner Bebe (Susan Sarandon). As predicted, such a misfortunate set of events guarantees that nothing is to go quite as initially planned.
The Big Wedding is non-stop gags, as an unrelenting comedy feature where almost every other line is intended to be a funny one. However the vast majority of jokes go down like a lead balloon, as the laugh out loud count hits a staggeringly depressing zero. It's simply too predictable and you can see every plot point within seconds. One of the funniest jokes in this title is somewhat accidental, coming in the form of the casting of Barnes in the role of Alejandro. Not that he turns in a bad performance as such, but rather than simply cast a Columbian, they just put the poor actor in a tanning booth for half an hour too long.
However the unfortunate difference between the likes of The Big Wedding and The Knot, for example, is that this hasn't got Matthew McNulty and Davie Fairbanks in it. Or Rufus Hound from The Wedding video. Or Kevin Bishop from A Few Best Men. No, this is Hollywood heavyweights who should know better. De Niro, Keaton, Sarandon. These actors have been in so many great films surely they must have realised this wasn't one of them, especially Keaton. She was in Annie Hall, a film that ultimately defines the romantic comedy genre, and now look what's happened. Meanwhile there's even a role for Robin Williams, playing another comedy vicar. Any more of these and he'll be fit to officiate a real wedding.
The one saving grace for The Big Wedding is that it doesn't take itself seriously at all, as a film that on a handful of occasions can be considered as being rather fun. However coming out in the same week as the brilliant Populaire, if you ever needed proof that the French handle romance with far more dignity and elegance on the big screen, then here it is.