The Big Wedding (R)

Comedy 89 April 26, 2013
By Calum Marsh
Justin Zackham's vile The Big Wedding opens with a foray back through silver-screen history. When Ellie (Diane Keaton) walks in on her ex-husband, Don (Robert De Niro), as he moves to perform kitchen-counter cunnilingus on his new girlfriend, Bebe (Susan Sarandon), it's possible to see aging legends of the cinema imagined suddenly together, as if Annie Hall and Travis Bickle and Louise Sawyer one day found themselves playing out some producer's laziest scene ideas. There is, in other words, a lot of history in The Big Wedding-- a history the film not so much squanders as utterly defaces. The wedding here is an excuse to draw together cardboard characters whose prefab arcs end as obviously as they begin. The moment we're introduced to virginal doctor Jared (Topher Grace), we can be assured that we'll see him pop his proverbial cherry by film's end. Same goes for elder sister Lyla (Katherine Heigl), whose pained journey from barren womb to baby bump is too predictable to bother spoiler-warning. All this is held together by casual racism. The son about to be married is Alejandro (Ben Barnes), adopted as a child from Colombia. His biological mother, the devoutly religious Madonna (Patricia Rae), will be visiting for the ceremony, joined by Nuria (Ana Ayora), Alejandro's biological sister, and together the two represent some of the most repugnant foreign stereotyping in years. The film divides these women-- the only non-white characters-- into a literal mother/whore dichotomy. Nuria is relegated to the demeaning role of an exotic Other only present to strip nude and seduce one of the white male leads.
Justin Zackham Amanda Seyfried, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, Ben Barnes, Diane Keaton, Marc Blucas, David Rasche Justin Zackham Clay Pecorin, Harry J. Ufland, Justin Zackham Lionsgate Films

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