Wedding rings with laughs and big guests
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