May 2, 2013

Skip viewing 'Big Wedding'


---- — Technically, “The Big Wedding” is a romantic comedy. Since it is rarely funny or romantic, however, it might be more accurate to simply classify it as a flop.

Featuring veteran star power like Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams and Susan Sarandon, mixed with some solid younger talent, the film would seem to have some promise. Any positives, though, are quashed by a thoroughly predictable and stupidly contrived story.

De Niro and Keaton star as Don and Ellie, a long-divorced couple brought together for the wedding of their adopted son, Alejandro (“Prince Caspian” Ben Barnes), and his lovely young bride, Melissa (Amanda Seyfried).

The flimsy foundation on which the film’s would-be humor is built is this: Alejandro is terrified that his birth mother — a devout Catholic — will somehow have her life ruined if she finds out that his adoptive parents are divorced. So he asks his parents to pretend that they’re still married for the weekend, in the process shunning Don’s long-time girlfriend (Sarandon), who has lovingly helped raise him.

The premise isn’t ever believable, which would be fine if the farce provided some worthwhile laughs. Unfortunately, the surprisingly low-brow humor rarely finds its mark. It’s not outrageous enough to make, say, Judd Apatow fans watch, yet it’s inappropriate enough to make you cringe if you brought your mother.

Viewers have likely seen all the most humorous bits in the trailers or commercials, and probably didn’t laugh at those. It doesn’t get better.

In addition to the main story line, there are side plots involving Alejandro’s siblings. Katherine Heigl has a thankless role as the brooding sister Lyla. She’s separated from her husband, uncomfortable around babies and throws up at inopportune times. Huh, wonder what her secret could be?

Topher Grace is the older brother, a 29-year-old virgin who finds himself attracted to Alejandro’s sexy biological sister. Robin Williams also pops in periodically as a comically disapproving priest.

“The Big Wedding” has a breezy hour-and-a-half running time, but it somehow seems twice as long. I recommend saving an evening and going straight to the annulment.

Rental Recommendation: Two brothers try to save their failing restaurant with one “Big Night.” Clever and funny, starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub. Grade: B

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"The Big Wedding"

Grade: C-

Starring: Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton

Rated: R (nudity, sexual situations, strong language, alcohol abuse and violence)

Running time: 89 minutes