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'Big Wedding' seems about money, not love

‘The Big Wedding'



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By Bill Goodykoontz
Thursday, April 25, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Despite a cast that includes Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Amanda Seyfried and Robin Williams, “The Big Wedding” is a pretty bad movie.

It takes some real talent to waste so much, um, talent. But writer and director Justin Zackham, who based the film on the Swiss film “Mon Frere Se Marie,” has managed to do just that. This is essentially a stupid romantic comedy with a well-known cast.

Oh, and Katherine Heigl.

There is nothing about the movie that isn't utterly predictable. You meet a character and it's immediately obvious what's going to happen to him (or her). And then it happens.

Don and Ellie (De Niro and Keating) are, in the way that movie couples are, amicably divorced. He's a rich sculptor, she's a rich something or other; we don't really know. Don lives with Bebe (Sarandon), who owns a catering business, in the astoundingly beautiful home he used to share with Ellie.

Ellie is in town for the wedding of Alejandro (Ben Barnes), their adopted youngest son, who has just graduated from Harvard. He's marrying Missy (Seyfried); his brother, Jared (Topher Grace) and sister, Lyla (Heigl), are coming home for the nuptials.

Alejandro's birth mother Madonna (Patricia Rae) is also coming in for the wedding. A devout Catholic, she would never approve of Don and Ellie's divorce. This point is driven home by Father Moinighan (Williams, funny in a relatively restrained performance). So, they do what anyone would do in this situation: Lie and pretend that Don and Ellie are still married.

So basically you've got rich, supposedly smart people play-acting at life and love. What's not to like?

Most everything, really. There are a couple of laughs here and there, and all of the actors are pleasant enough. They're just asked to do really stupid things.

Which is fine; they get paid a lot of money to do them.

We don't.

Bill Goodykoontz is a film critic for The Arizona Republic.

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