Mar­i­tal blish

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE BIG WED­DING

Di­rected by Justin Zack­ham. Star­ring Robert De Niro, Kather­ine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, To­pher Grace, Su­san Saran­don, Robin Wil­liams, Ben Barnes 15A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 89 min Gather your grand­chil­dren to the knee and tell them of a time when the names of Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro on a film’s poster tele­graphed qual­ity. I sup­pose the dis­trib­u­tors of this dread­ful com­edy are obliged to ac­knowl­edge that those two ac­tors star along­side such re­li­able har­bin­gers of catas­tro­phe as Kather­ine Heigl and Robin Wil­liams. They may as well have mounted shrunken heads at the en­trance to the cin­ema. Joseph Con­rad filled the long route to Mr Kurtz’s com­pound with less trou­bling omens.

Oh, it might not be so bad. Su­san Saran­don is, th­ese days, a tiny bit less at home to garbage than Keaton and De Niro. Some­body is bound to fall in the swim­ming pool. And that’s al­ways hi­lar­i­ous.

As it hap­pens, The Big Wed­ding – adapted from a French film I’m happy never to have seen – is ev­ery bit as atro­cious as the portents sug­gest. It’s much more bor­ing than you might ex­pect. It con­tains a baf­fling vein of racism that seems chan­nelled in from a dis­tant decade. Robin Wil­liams’s turn as an al­co­holic priest is so un­in­ten­tion­ally ter­ri­fy­ing you find your­self try­ing to re­press the mem­ory even be­fore he has ex­ited the screen.

Oh, hang on. What’s it about? Keaton and De Niro’s adopted son, who’s orig­i­nally from Colom­bia, is about to marry a corn-fed Ir­ishAmer­i­can gal. On the eve of the wed­ding, we learn that the boy’s birth-mother, a de­vout Catholic, does not know that Bob and Diane di­vorced many years pre­vi­ously. So poor old Saran­don, De Niro’s cur­rent part­ner, is dis­patched to the out­house while the old lags pre­tend to be still happily en­twined.

The film has the nerve to make the bride’s par­ents snobby racists. Mean­while, they cast the un­avoid­ably English Ben Barnes as the adopted son and present his Cen­tral Amer­i­can mother as a sim­ple-mind- ed halfwit and his birth sis­ter as a “free-spir­ited” ex­otic strum­pet. How do you want your hypocrisy?

Oh well, at least some­body does fall in the swim­ming pool. It’s Robert De Niro. Un­for­tu­nately, he resur­faces.

The Os­car win­ners for­merly known as Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton

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