Review: The Big Wedding ★☆☆☆☆

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This vile remake of French film Mon frère se marie is the closest thing to cinematic bile that this year is lightly to see. Truly hideous on every possible level, the movie groups together a collection of once-great actors (Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon) and proceeds to strip them of all dignity and worth.

The film opens up with Keaton entering the house of her ex-husband (De Niro) and his partner (Sarandon) to find them about to engage in cunnilingus. If you felt your life was missing a shot of an aging Travis Bickle going down on Louise Sawyer with Kay Adams from The Godfather watching only metres away, this is the movie for you.

The ridiculous set up: De Niro and Keaton’s adopted son Ben Barnes (who is bathed in fake tan to make him resemble ONE OF THEM FOREIGN TYPES) wants to marry Amanda Seyfried (who has a criminal father and a mother who has had too much plastic surgery, a detail which is REALLY FUNNY APPARENTLY). The problem is, Barnes’s adopted parents are divorced, and worries that his deeply conservative biological mother, who is flying in from Columbia to come to the wedding, will not approve. So, guess what contrivance will set the ground for a whole hour of OH MY GOD IT’S SO SO FUNNY set-pieces? Ex-partners Keaton and De Niro pretending to still be married!!! GET IT?!! DIVORCED PEOPLE PRETENDING THEY ARE MARRIED!!!! Comedy gold, eh?

Once the film has committed this initial affront to the audience’s intelligence, it then forces us to watch as the family indulges in their own little sordid sexual escapades. One of these includes Barnes’s adopted brother (Topher Grace), who is a committed virgin, being seduced by the visiting biological sister (Ana Ayora). The scene where he gets a hand-job under the table at a restaurant (and his mother witnessing it) will haunt me forever. What’s worse, Grace and his biological sister Katherine Heigl have candid discussions about each other’s sex lives. Uncomfortable doesn’t cover it.

Heigl, who seems to be desperately trying to make as many dire movies as she can before she reaches forty, looks thoroughly depressed throughout. I’m not surprised. Her disturbed expression is only matched by the looks of befuddlement on the faces of the extras at the wedding, as if they had all been recruited via an exclusive Groupon offer to see famous stars from the silver screen demean themselves in front of cameras.

Because director and writer Justin Zackham seems unable to come up with anything truly funny or entertaining, he relies on broad sex-jokes and casual racism. There is also an unsavory running gag about domestic violence. I would say it outstays its welcome, but then the idea of couples punching their partners in the face has never been very welcome in my books anyway, regardless of what gender they are.

A mean-spirited final reveal features the most obnoxious, loathsome character coming out as gay (GET IT?! A SECRET HOMOSEXUAL!!! HOW FUNNY!!!!). Though accusations of homophobia wouldn’t be entirely unfounded, the film has such an ugly and poisonous view of humanity as a whole, it would hardly seem worth the energy.

Everyone goes to the cinema looking for different things. Some go to escape their troubles from their own lives, some go as a romantic date or to enjoy an emotional experience with good friends. Others go to appreciate the art of cinema and relish pointing out authorial traits of their favourite directors. And some people, somewhere, must go in order to see privileged racist Americans fuck each other and spend money like it’s going out of fashion. If The Big Wedding is the best option they have, they deserve all they get.

The Big Wedding (2013), directed by Justin Zackham, is released in UK cinemas by Lionsgate, Certificate 15. 

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

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