Wed­ding rings with laughs and big guests

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

COARSE, crude but of­ten cute, The Big Wed­ding serves up the spec­ta­cle of its ti­tle – and of four pen­sion-age Os­car win­ners curs­ing like sailors.

A sex farce lit­tered with f-bombs and c-words, it’s the filth­i­est (sound­ing) movie of the year – so far. Justin Zack­ham’s adap­ta­tion of the French com­edy Mon frere se marie ( My Brother is Get­ting Mar­ried) ben­e­fits from old pros Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro, Su­san Saran­don and Robin Wil­liams, all play­ing cyn­ics con­spir­ing or blun­der­ing into butcher­ing the wed­ding of poor Missy (Amanda Seyfried) and Ale­jan­dro (Ben Barnes). Let’s face it, you don’t quote Os­car Wilde to a cou­ple who plan to wed. (‘‘Mar­riage is the tri­umph of imag­i­na­tion over in­tel­li­gence.’’)

Ale­jan­dro’s the adopted Colom­bian son of Don (De Niro) and El­lie (Keaton). Only they’re di­vorced.

Don, a swag­ger­ing ‘‘lit­tle blue helper’’ – loving sculp­tor, lives with Bebe (Saran­don), who cheated with him over a decade ago. But now El­lie is back for the wed­ding, and Ale­jan­dro’s long-ab­sent, un­bend­ingly Catholic birth mother (Pa­tri­cia Rae), who is al­ready Su­san Saran­don, Robin Wil­liams and Robert De Niro star as cyn­ics try­ing to butcher a wed­ding in The Big Wed­ding. putting them through the ringer with the se­ri­ously nar­row-minded priest (Wil­liams), won’t un­der­stand how di­vorced par­ents can have raised her boy to know what mar­riage should be.

So Don and El­lie pre­tend they’re still mar­ried. Bebe, hurt, flees – but doesn’t. She’s planned the wed­ding, af­ter all. Don is on the wagon. For now. And El­lie may still have the hots for him.

Then there’s Ale­jan­dro’s step-sis­ter Lyla (Kather­ine Heigl), split from her hus­band and re­sent­ful of the fa­ther who ex­pects them to bond in some kind of ‘‘fa­ther-daugh­ter Kum­baya on a stick’’ mo­ment. And Jared (To­pher Grace), their vir­ginal doc­tor brother, meets Nuria (Ana Ay­ora), Ale­jan­dro’s over­sexed Colom­bian sis­ter, who promptly strips, skinny dips and hurls her­self at Jared. What could go wrong?

The Big Wed­ding has a witty script – even the oc­ca­sional sub­ti­tled bit tick­les – that wears its French ori­gins well, and the play­ers are a plea­sure to watch, from the testy-sexy turn by Keaton, to a per­fectly wounded Saran­don, with randy De Niro let­ting his eye wan­der from one to the other. Heigl, Grace and Wil­liams, not hav­ing to carry the pic­ture, give re­laxed per­for­mances that play to their ‘‘types’’ And their strengths. Chris­tine Eber­sole has a chewy scene or two as Missy’s big­oted mother.

The best wed­ding come­dies – My Best Friend’s Wed­ding is still the gold stan­dard – keep emo­tions close to the sur­face and a song on ev­ery­body’s lips.

The Big Wed­ding does OK by the mu­sic, but pretty much blows the emo­tional bits. While it never quite works it­self into a far­ci­cal lather, many of the one-lin­ers and in­sane sit­u­a­tions land. Wed­ding din­ners and pre-cer­e­mony fights are filled with jaw­drop­ping rev­e­la­tions and em­bar­rass­ing stum­bles.

That’s al­most too much to pack in an old-fash­ioned, new-pro­fan­ity romp, rated MA15+, when it could have been far less jar­ring as a PG.

The Big Wed­ding opens to­day.

– ROGER MOORE

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