© Concorde Filmverleih GmbH

Big Wedding (The Big Wedding)
U.S.A. 2013

Opening 30 May 2013

Directed by: Justin Zackham
Writing credits: Justin Zackham, Jean-Stéphane Bron, Karine Sudan
Principal actors: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace

In a time when getting money to make a film is harder than ever, it is amazing that such terrible tripe like The Big Wedding can continue to be made. It is a film where clichéd characters react to clichéd situations and come together in the end to a charmingly clichéd ending. That so many decent actors would even come near to this steaming pile of manure makes one wonder if they even read the script before signing the contract. Maybe it was a case of everyone looking for a paycheck, or maybe the filmmakers couldn’t see the forest for the trees, but regardless it is a terrible film.

Ellie (Diane Keaton) and Don (Robert De Niro) were married with three children – Lyla (Katherine Heigl), Jared (Topher Grace), and Alejandro (Ben Barnes) – until Don ruined it all by having sex with Ellie’s best friend Bebe (Susan Sarandon). Years later, Ellie comes back to the home that she built with Don to celebrate their adopted son Alejandro’s wedding. Cue Ellie awkwardly walking in on Don and Bebe having sex on the countertop (I hope they cleaned it afterwards). Alejandro has invited his conservative Catholic birth mother (Patricia Rae) and sister (Ana Ayora) to attend the wedding. Instead of acting normal, and just letting the birth mother see that her son’s adoptive parents are divorced, the family decided to act as those Ellie and Don are still together. Bebe is understandably upset and leaves. Meanwhile, Lyla is pregnant and unhappy in her marriage, Jared is a virgin and is panting after Alejandro’s not-so-conservative-as-he-thought sister, and Alejandro and his fiancée Missy (Amanda Seyfried) are having issues about religion and her racist parents.

Did you get all of that?

The problem is that all of this drama comes off cold because it takes real-life issues such as divorce, abortion, cheating and family problems and makes it shallow and superficial. Lyla could have saved herself a world of stress by calling her husband. Instead she whines about it for the whole movie and her family calls him for her. Jared is a virgin by choice, and it’s shown throughout the film that he could have any woman he wanted to, but he is searching for the right one. However, the moment that a hot girl (soon to be his sister-in-law! Yuck!) flashes her naked body at him, he is all for having sex. It gets to the point where he pursues her like a Pepe Le Pew (this is not a compliment). What happened to his morals? Oh right, he is a man and Hollywood would like us to believe that men can only think with their junk.
This brings us to the biggest issue, which is the Ellie-Don-Bebe love triangle. In the end this is resolved because it is revealed that not only is Don a big, lying cheater, but so is every other older adult in the film! Then everyone has a nice laugh and all problems are resolved and everyone becomes a big happy family. Ignoring how this shows that they are all pretty messed up individuals who clearly have commitment and trust issues. It is no wonder that their children also exhibit disturbing behaviors in their own relationships.

The whole catalyst for the film was covering up a divorce so that Alejandro’s conservative mother wouldn’t be mad or upset. At the conclusion of the film, she finds this out and is not upset at all. However, if she could understand English and knew how truly disturbed her son’s adoptive family really was, she would do everything in her power to get him away from these crazy people.

The Big Wedding is not a good film on various levels. It does not show healthy relationships, the characters do not learn from their mistakes and serious issues are treated like trifle jokes. Unless you want to leave the cinema with a bad taste in your mouth, I would give this one a miss. (Rose Finlay)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.