This is one ‘Big Wedding’ you wish you hadn’t been invited to
A review of “The Big Wedding,” which might have started out as a good idea by Nora Ephron but turned into a mess somewhere along the way.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘The Big Wedding,’ with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Robin Williams, Ben Barnes, Christine Ebersole, David Rasche, Patricia Rae, Ana Ayora. Written and directed by Justin Zackham. 90 minutes. Rated R for language, sexual content and brief nudity. Several theaters.
Nora Ephron, back in the “When Harry Met Sally ...” era, wrote an essay in which she compared screenwriting to ordering a pizza. The writer dreams up (I’m paraphrasing here) a wonderful, perfect, plain cheese pizza; then the director wants to add tomatoes, then mushrooms, then pepperoni, then pineapple, etc., etc. What you end up with might be delicious or it might be a mess, but it won’t be that first, simple vision. I don’t know what the screenplay to Justin Zackham’s “The Big Wedding” looked like in its original conception, but as it is now, it’s a pizza with an entire delicatessen poured over it. It’s a mess, and not in a good way.
Here is just some of the plot: Ellie (Diane Keaton) and Don (Robert De Niro), long divorced, have to pretend to be married for the benefit of the biological mother (Patricia Rae) of their son Alejandro (Ben Barnes), who’s marrying Melissa (Amanda Seyfried). Don’s longtime girlfriend Bebe (Susan Sarandon), once Ellie’s best friend, gets huffy about this. Ellie and Don’s son Jared (Topher Grace) is a 29-year-old virgin, who’s soon being eyed by Alejandro’s biological sister Nuria (Ana Ayora), who takes off her librarian glasses and is suddenly exquisite. Jared’s sister Lyla (Katherine Heigl) is having marital troubles, fertility issues, maybe a concussion and definitely a bad haircut. Melissa’s father Barry (David Rasche) and mother Muffin (Christine Ebersole) have some secrets that get revealed, and Robin Williams as Father Moinighan seems to be there to remind us that this whole pretending-to-be-married-for-the-sake-of-the-kid’s-wedding thing was done much better in “The Birdcage” (and, before that, “La Cage aux Folles”).
Almost none of this is appealing, other than Seyfried’s very pretty wedding dress and an excellent, throwaway face Keaton makes when Bebe talks about catering (blink and you’ll miss it). Nobody in this story behaves in a believable way — which might be acceptable if they were funny, but they’re not. Send this pizza back, and fast.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org