Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife
The adopted son of a divorced couple must convince his estranged parents to feign marital bliss when his biological mother visits for his wedding.
Someone's been stealing from the Nancy Meyers playbook: not only does recycled romcom The Big Wedding shamelessly re-gift every single wedding cliché there is, it also borrows liberally from Meyers' glossy portfolio of movie characters with first world problems. Here we follow a set of affluent, middle-aged, white Americans who live in a lakeside model home with interior décor to die for, enjoying romantic entanglements with the kind of painfully attractive men and women that are usually restricted to the pages of People Magazine.
Frankly, even Terry & June would balk at such a hackneyed set-up: Robert De Niro's paunchy playboy and his ex-wife Diane Keaton must put their differences aside and fake a marriage for three days, while adopted son Ben Barnes entertains his deeply religious biological mother on the eve of his wedding. It's a fitting format for a farce, but feels tragically outdated from the outset; you can practically hear the cogs creaking as the story goes through the motions. De Niro at least has fun as the lusty patriarch, pawing at his old flame while grinning that Cheshire Cat smile of his, but the large ensemble cast is mostly filler: Katherine Heigl quickly grates as the daughter with marital problems; Topher Grace is on auto-pilot as the son looking to lose his V-plates (at 29 – yeah, right); and Amanda Seyfried is wasted in the thankless role of bride-to-be. There isn't a relatable character in the bunch, making this feel like one of those weddings you just can't wait to leave.
A smart script would compensate for a roster of rascals, but this is route one comedy – here, punchlines are delivered literally (usually on the nose of De Niro), and there are two 'hilarious' scenes in which someone accidentally falls in water. A 15-rating does at least give the family feuding some much-needed edge, but such spite feels at odds with the cuddly-wuddly womance writer-director Justin Zackham is desperate to shovel come the final 'I do's. At least Nancy Meyers knew how to sell schmaltz.
You'll run out of appendages on which to count the clichés. Charmless and largely laugh-free, The Big Wedding is glossy like it's been ripped from the pages of a magazine, but the characters are paper-thin as a result.
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