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Review: 'The Big Wedding' aims its raunchiness at the AARP crowd

Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon head a talented cast that is wasted.

April 25, 2013|By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
  • Katherine Heigl, left, as Lyla and Susan Sarandon as Bebe "The Big Wedding."
Katherine Heigl, left, as Lyla and Susan Sarandon as Bebe "The Big… (Barry Wetcher )

Don't be fooled into thinking that "The Big Wedding" is about the fetching young bride and groom. This is gross-out humor for the senior set.

With raunchy comedies all the rage, I guess it was inevitable that sooner or later someone would go for the AARP crowd.

"The Big Wedding": A movie review of "The Big Wedding" in the April 26 Calendar section misspelled Colombia as Columbia. —

"The Big Wedding" is unabashed and unashamed, though its cast of top-tier talent should be, starting with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon.

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That might sound ageist, but it would be hard to outstrip the movie on that front.

Consider the nine-hour orgasm.

Sound impossible? Just ask Keaton. She plays De Niro's ex, Ellie, who is eager to let everyone know exactly how satisfying it was. The duration is mentioned many times, though even if Ellie had enlisted the entire lineup of "Magic Mike," I don't think it's possible — or medically advisable — at any age. And every time Ellie is pressed to mention it, Keaton looks slightly apologetic. To see Keaton shine in a later-day sex-capade, rent "Something's Gotta Give" and watch a woman of a certain age in a truly funny flirt with Jack Nicholson.

De Niro. I fear for him. There are now at least two generations of moviegoers who probably don't know anything about him beyond flatulence jokes and Fockers, though after "The Big Wedding," I'm reassessing the merits of the Focker films.

I thought perhaps with his good turn in "Silver Linings Playbook" last year the actor was going to be more selective in his roles. Although another "Raging Bull" or "Taxi Driver" might not be in the cards, there must be better projects that would actually use his skills.

Instead, the talent and a great face, which is aging in such interesting ways, is wasted as Don, a sculptor of sometimes erotic figures. Oh, and Don's the dad.

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Sarandon. She makes even a bad movie better. Her Bebe was Ellie's best friend, until she bedded Don, and that's what caused the family rift that the kids are trying to patch up for the wedding weekend that is technically the reason we're all gathered here.

Robin Williams. He plays the priest who spends most of his time in a confessional forced to listen to all the indiscretions, so he can be forgiven for being forgiving — keeping his hands, and his comments, relatively circumspect.

Director Justin Zackham, whose first film was 2001's "Going Greek," about a nerd joining a wild and crazy fraternity, adapted the screenplay from the 2006 French film "Mon frère se Marie." The French are usually better at sex comedies than we are, but even "Mon frère se Marie" wasn't much of a success.

Strangely, the kids are the conservative ones.

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Amanda Seyfried is the bride, and she's often blushing. She's marrying Don and Ellie's youngest, and the only one in this cast besides Bebe whose name you'll remember. It's Alejandro — trill those Rs everyone. Portrayed by Ben Barnes, Alejandro's Latin heritage — he's adopted — is the only thing other than sex that is used for comic fodder. It is universally politically incorrect — from the "brown babies" the bride's parents fear to the chimichangas they order up during the rehearsal dinner.

Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace are Alejandro's older American brother and sis. Grace plays a doctor, 30, who's saving himself for marriage or true love or a really hot chick to come along. She does in Alejandro's biological sister (Ana Ayora). Meanwhile, Heigl has a beef with dad, but we don't know what it is, or care.

The only other person of interest is Madonna (Patricia Rae). She's Alejandro's biological mother, a conservative Catholic from Columbia who would apparently be appalled to know that the family she placed her son with is fractured by divorce. Thus for a weekend, the family must perform a farce — Bebe has to take a back seat, while Ellie and Don pretend to be married again. Let the games begin.

To be fair, there are moments that earn their laughs and nostalgic memories for the marriage that was and the relationship that is that are sweet. But like many big weddings — a lot of things go wrong and not much goes right.


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