If you ask most film critics what their absolute least favorite movie genre is, the most common response you are likely to get is romantic comedy. This of course isn’t to say that there aren’t great romantic comedies out there, whether you prefer the classics (Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally) or more modern fare (Hitch, My Big Fat Greek Wedding). The reason why Rom-Coms are so widely reviled as a whole is that they have always been one of the biggest sources of laziness in Hollywood, and will always will be thanks to the low costs of the films involved. Studios have learned by now that you can make a decently profitable flick by cobbling together a well known cast, shoving them into a generic story with mediocre writing and over-saturating the entire mess with incidental background music that tries to create the illusion of comedy where there is none. With it’s blasé trailers and inexperienced direction, I had a feeling that The Big Wedding would do little to buck this trend. Still though, I wasn’t prepared for this. The Big Wedding wastes a mostly talented cast on a dull, predictable story, an entirely laugh-less script and flat-out strange characters, resulting in the most unbearable mess of 2013
The Plot: 2/10
A long-divorced couple fakes being married as their family unites for a wedding.
The simplicity of the IMDb summary should just how little effort went into the plot of this movie. The set-up above is admittedly focused on in the trailers much more than it’s focused on in the movie, but the addition of additional sub-plots to the central premise does nothing to make the proceedings more interesting. Every development is as boring as it is predictable, and the only thing I can say for it all is that it’s a blessing that the movie is only 90 minutes long. That being said, I challenge you to find a movie that can make 90 minutes feel longer than this film does.
The Writing: 1/10
There’s very little else on this world that is more painful than watching a movie that thinks it’s funny but isn’t. Even movies like Movie 43 and Scary Movie 5 seem to be aware of how terrible they are, and save a little face by the associated lack of ambition that awareness entails. The Big Wedding, however, seems to think that it’s being clever; a thought that I can only assume was reached through massive amounts of self-delusion and disdain for the target audience. The best/worst example of this is the film’s dialogue, which tries to strike a balance between snappy insult comedy and unexpected raunchiness. The mix it ends up with is nothing short of weird.
The characters themselves are incredibly flat and uninteresting for the most part, which is a pretty big flaw for a film that focuses exclusively on those characters. It’s possible that the writers thought that keeping the characters very general and undeveloped might make them more broadly relatable, but that just isn’t the case. The only attempts at development come in the love triangle between DeNiro, Keaton and Surandon, as well as the three’s connecting history that led them to where they are now. That angle in particular feels like a passage way through which the writers try to convey a deep, sympathetic message of earnest cynicism about the tolls of marriage, but that message is very poorly expressed and ends up just as forgettable as the characters themselves.
As a final note, for some of the best/worst quotes of the film, check out my corresponding Live Tweet here.
The Acting: 2/10
While Movie 43 remains the biggest waste of talent 2013 has yet to offer, the starring nature of the roles involved make The Big Wedding a close second. We have Travis Bickle, Louise Sawyer and Annie Hall in the same movie, yet we’re left with nothing but this? I can understand the presences of Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Amanda Seyfried, and Robin Williams (who should never have donned a priest’s robes after License to Wed), but those three should never have set foot near this movie. As a result, I’m starting to lose all of my Goodwill towards DeNiro that my recent series on Martin Scorsese has created.
As a side note, I’d like to mention the fact that in a world full of fully capable Latino actors, the decision was made to go with Ben Barnes, aka Prince Caspian, a British actor who has about as much Colombian blood in him as Robert DeNiro does. Barnes’ hammy performance does nothing to justify his place here, either.
The Comedy: 1/10
As a preface to this section, I’d like to note that there were several people in the rows in front of me that were laughing their asses off for the entire movie, even clapping after several “Punchlines”. The idea that anyone could have that level of enthusiasm over the comedy offered here absolutely perplexed me until I reminded myself that we live in a country where the premier of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo got higher ratings than the first Presidential Debate last year.
As I mentioned above, the film’s attempts at laughs are an odd balance of sexual humor, dysfunctional family awkwardness and situational comedy, though again the latter features much more heavily in the promotional material than in the film itself. The sex aspect of all of this feels like it’s going for shock value more than anything, especially with the age and family relationship of the cast. Geriatric raunchiness just isn’t that funny any more, especially with recent movies like It’s Complicated handling the subject far more ably than it is handled here. There’s also an occasional attempt at racial humor that is made even less funny by the overabundance of rich white people.
The Verdict: 1.5/10 – Revolting
– Generic plot that is equal parts boring and predictable
– Characters that are about as flat as your typical American Idol auditioner
– Absolutely no romantic or familial chemistry between the cast
– About as funny as it is original
Rotten Tomatoes: 6%