Every year gets at least one ensemble comedy and 2013 gives us The Big Wedding – a romanticish comedy with a big cast and a big wedding they’re all involved in. The ensemble rundown looks like this: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace and Susan Sarandon with Robin Williams, Ben Barnes, Christine Ebersole, David Rasche, Patricia Rae, and Ana Ayora.
Don (De Niro) and Ellie (Keaton) are an older divorced couple who have three children. Lyla (Heigl) and Jared (Grace) are their biological children, now a lawyer and a doctor, respectively. Alejandro (Barnes) is their adopted son from Colombia who is about to be married to Missy (Seyfried) who is the daughter of Don and Ellie’s long time friends Barry (Rasche) and Muffin (Ebersole). Since the divorce, Don is now in a relationship with Ellie’s best friend, Bebe (Sarandon) who is living with him. In order to avoid offending his devout Catholic birth mother Madonna (Rae) and his quiet sister Nuria (Ayora), Alejandro convinces Don and Ellie to pretend to be still married so as not to appear as heathens to his birth mother who will be meeting them all for the first time. Also, Father Moinighan (Williams) goes to AA with Don. There’s a lot more going on, but I think that about covers the basic setup.
Often times in a movie with such a large cast, at least a few of the stars end up lost in the shuffle with parts that feel more like glorified cameos. Despite being a shorter film, The Big Wedding manages to balance out the robust cast so that everyone feels like they belong, bringing everything into a surprisingly cohesive product given the amount of things going on at any given time. In short, it all works – despite the fact that we are supposed to believe that Barnes is Colombian (He’s British with Jewish and South African heritage).
Going in, I assumed this was going to be a pretty standard wedding themed chick flick. I was surprised to find that it is a comedy first – and not even really a rom-com. It’s just a comedy that takes place around a wedding. Yes there are romantic and chick flicky moments, but those things are secondary to it being a funny film. Maybe what sets it apart is that it feels more adult than a lot of other similar type films. I don’t mean that it has language and nudity – though as an R rated movie, it does have those things – but that it has a sort of grown up maturity about it. De Niro, Keaton, and Sarandon manage to bring some class to the table while still having fun and managing to avoid the intense awkwardness of the “old people talking about sex,” film Hope Springs.
I don’t find a lot of current comedies that funny, but this had me laughing. It’s often R rated humor, but the kind that is actually intended for adults – not a bunch of bodily function gags and dick jokes. There’s a big reveal near the end that is nearly as good as the one in the hilarious Crazy Stupid Love. The pace is good, the jokes keep coming, and the characters are all enjoyable – if not always likeable. Where this movie falters is that it tries just a little too hard. I blame trying to keep so many characters from becoming confusing.
The plot is just a little too transparent in where it is headed, though there are some great surprises, and it doesn’t always go where it seems. I don’t think it’s going to become the next My Big Fat Greek Wedding, though it could be called My Big Crazy Catholic Wedding of Lies.
I ended up enjoying this film much more than I expected
Mrs. Hamster did not attend this screening
My Rating: Three out of Five Hats
The Big Wedding arrives in 2,500 theaters, April 26