Movie Reviews
April 30, 2013 • 04:28:15 p.m.

A ‘Wedding’ better left at the altar

By DANA BARBUTO - More Content Now

Robert De Niro (left) and Katherine Heigl round out the star-studded cast of “The Big Wedding.” (Lionsgate photo)

The march-to-matrimony rom-com “The Big Wedding” has all its “somethings” covered: it’s a tale as OLD as time; its director is pretty NEW; the plot is BORROWED and it left me BLUE from holding my breath ’til it was over.

Weddings tend to bring out the worst in families, and in this case, movies, too. Cribbing from a French comedy, writer-director Justin Zackham (“The Bucket List”) has concocted material as thin as the tulle veil adorning the bride (Amanda Seyfried).

The characters, all little cloned cake-toppers, are as formulaic as they come. To say Katherine Heigl – the poster girl for foul chick flicks (“The Ugly Truth,” “Life as We Know It”) – is not the low-light of “The Big Wedding” speaks volumes.

Playing the groom’s older sister, she’s not all that bad. No such redemption for the quartet of Oscar-winners slumming for a paycheck. You’d expect the presence of Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro and Robin Williams to lend gravitas.

But like Al Pacino in Adam Sandler’s “Jack & Jill,” they only embarrass themselves. Sarandon deserves better than awkward, panties-around-the-ankles scenes, for example. A squinty-eyed De Niro again plays the randy, uncouth father, who conveniently goes off the wagon the day of the wedding. Keaton just blathers on, and the less said about Williams as an alcoholic priest, the better.

The movie spans one summer weekend at a glorious New England lake house, where the family has gathered for the wedding of adopted son, Alejandro (Ben Barnes), and Missy (Seyfried, with nothing to do). The groom’s divorced parents, Don (De Niro) and Ellie (Keaton), pretend to still be married for the sake of Alejandro’s biological – and very Catholic – mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae), who has traveled from Colombia to see her son wed. Sarandon is Bebe, Don’s live-in lover, who agrees to take a backseat on Alejandro’s behalf. Joining the wedding celebration are his sister, Lyla (Heigl), with her own marital woes, and brother, Jared (Topher Grace), the good-looking virgin doctor, targeting Alejandro’s biological sister, Nuria (Ana Ayora).

Oops, almost forgot the bride’s racist parents, Muffin (Tony-winner Christine Ebersole) and Barry (David Rasche), who don’t want “brown” grandbabies.

Zackham dampens the reception with painfully cliched twists (you’ll never guess who slept with whom, or who’s pregnant, or who’s a lesbian!) and rote genre trappings.

The outcome is never in doubt, despite the various contrived obstacles and confessions that pop up. It lacks so much heart and brains that you’ll want to leave this “Wedding” at the altar.

‘The Big Wedding’
Grade: C-
Cast: Robert De Niro, Susan
Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Kather-
ine Heigl.
Rated: R for language, sexual
content and brief nudity.

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