The Big Wedding – It’s rather grotesque

Directed by Justin Zackham

Written by Justin Zackham

Produced by Anthony Katagas, Justin Zackham, Clay Pecorin and more.

Production companies: Millenium Films, Two Ton Films.

UK release date: 29th May 2013.

Review may contain spoilers.

Written and directed by Justin Zackham, whose previous works include the platitude Going Greek, my hopes where not frivolous and I knew the likely monotonous treatment I was in for. But the film does embellish pristine production value, costume and set design, and takes advantage of a wondrous location making the film atmospherically pleasing to a contemporary extent. The film relies on sheer entertainment value, which in most parts is fulfilled for the naïve, but not so for the seasoned viewer.

The Big Wedding is not an original film by any means and one can expect a great deal of predictable content to be acted out seamlessly in the mannerisms of a sexual, crude yet simplistic nature. The storyline is endlessly interrupted by crude comedy and awkward moments that it becomes harder and harder to depict an eye on what is exactly happening. The story would therefore seem stronger without Robert de Niro making sexually seductive remarks for over half of his screentime and Ana Ayora looking perpetually like a blazing sex symbol throughout, but rather focusing on the intrinsic relationships of the family and working towards developing a sense of gratitude within the audience. Unfortunately, I spent most of my cinematic experience (or not) gaping at the screen, particularly as de Niro hoists his wife onto a kitchen table top to perform oral sex inadvertently in front of his ex-wife; a highlight of my day nonetheless. Admitted, the film does have its few amiably endearing family moments; the only valid poise I suppose.

If it weren’t for the somewhat stellar cast this film would almost have no attraction to the seasoned viewer whatsoever. Amanda Seyfried may be a great actress with a visually striking presence though she never seems to be cast in noble, ‘worthwhile’ films; perhaps it’s time she looked to a new agent; the recent Gone and Red Riding Hood notably stand by this and The Big Wedding is indeed no exception. Granted her performance in Les Miserables was spectacular; it was a spectacular picture. Here Seyfried plays the timid, irrepressibly in love girl who is about to be wed at the so-called ‘Big Wedding’ but her fiancé’s native Spanish mother casts a problem over the family due to her apparent traditional values which ends up causing greater disputes and apprehensions than at first evident. Yes, that is practically the entire plot.

The wonderful Diane Keaton and eccentric Susan Sarandon play the two mature roles of Ellie and Bebe who are adamant to de Niro’s character Don. This film is a long shot off their best performances but then again it was surely destined to be that way the minute they were handed the script. It rather saddens me to see noted actresses like Keaton and Sarandon being indulged by this contemporary Hollywood ‘refuse’ to star in these ‘garbage’ films after having contributed to the highly respectable and well received films from their era such as The Godfather, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Thelma & Louise and Dead Man Walking to name a few. Where is modern mainstream cinema heading? And why does Hollywood commonly feel as though they need to specifically write roles for the mature in order to establish a notorious cast? In my opinion, it’s because the now elderly actors from the revolutionized Hollywood in the ‘70s and ‘80s were the best Hollywood has ever had, most notably Robert de Niro. Actors like de Niro should either stop acting or go independent to assure they don’t ruin the value of the previous work they are so loved for; I’d undoubtedly rather remember de Niro for Taxi Driver or Raging Bulls than Meet the Fockers! Of course this will never happen.

Ironically the tagline for this film proposes, “It’s never too late to start acting like a family.” This advocates that the audience will perhaps receive marvelous content in which we watch a family embark on a great positively formed relation together, not the case. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the acts in this film don’t fit quite the facets of family ‘norm’. So please don’t take your family to see this film and expect to be pleasantly heartfelt. Instead, cover your children’s eyes two-fold and sigh in chronic dismay. (The Big Wedding is regulated as a 15 certificate, sorry kids!)

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