Given the eclectic and well-respected actors that make up The Big Wedding’s (2013) ensemble cast, you’d be forgiven for thinking this could one be a blast; a more adult take on the family wedding sub-genre and, with such calibre on show, a great match-up on paper. In reality, however, it’s more kind-of-funny-in-an-awkward way than laugh-out-loud hilarity – though any film that starts with Robert De Niro giving oral sex to Susan Sarandon deserves some kudos, if just for the sheer ballsiness of it. Director Justin Zackham continues at pace with this familiar form of teen-humour-as-performed by gracious, accomplished thesps.
We’re at a family wedding, of course, as Missy (Amanda Seyfried) and Alejandro (Ben Barnes) prepare to tie the knot. Don (De Niro) is the happy adoptive father, Bebe (Sarandon) the happy step-mum, and Ellie (Diane Keaton) the happy mum/ex-wife along for the ride. Strange enough yet? Well, how about Alejandro’ real mum arriving for the ceremony with a hate of divorce. There’s a deluge of mildly amusing situations here, none of which amount to anything bigger than a small chuckle. It’s all too much come the mid-section, and as soon as the more chucklesome bits that flesh out the opening exchanges are over, The Big Wedding becomes rather worn and flat. Still, with such a prestigious cast, it’s hard to truly hate the film.
Keaton is arguably the stand-out, her effortless nature raising every scene she’s in, even as she deals with a seemingly drunk De Niro. Katherine Heigl, Seyfried and Sarandon are also decent enough with the little scraps given to them, but Barnes and Topher Grace (as Jared) are poor throughout – with the latter demonstrating the same flaccid execution that helped derail 2007’s Spider-Man 3. In its favour, however, Spider-Man 3 has the kind of premise that will get quite a few interested in both its premise and cast. There’s still something to discover here, something new and interesting that combines a lot of good talent. Sadly, once we see De Niro performing his own unique brand of fellatio, the intrigue may soon be lost on you. Enjoyable in places but ultimately forgettable, Zackham’s ‘comedy’ is certainly large in its cast, but small in its laughs.