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Ana Ayora, Patricia Rae, Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro star in The Big Wedding, a predictable light comedy. Photo by Barry Wetcher
Ana Ayora, Patricia Rae, Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro star in The Big Wedding, a predictable light comedy. Photo by Barry Wetcher

Film review: The Big Wedding is an imperfect match

Instead of the biting farce it could be, this is just another schmaltzy domestic tale.

The Big Wedding
Director: Justin Zackham
Starring: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Ben Barnes, Susan Sarandon

A remake of 2006 the French farce Mon Frère Se Marie that boasts three Oscar winners - Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon and Diane Keaton - should be a bash not to be missed. But this nuptial comedy joins the long list of bad Hollywood remakes of French movies (think Breathless starring Richard Gere and the appalling 1988 reworking of the Brigitte Bardot phenomenon And God Created Woman). As for De Niro, Sarandon and Keaton, this is another sorry reminder of how far removed their careers have become from their days as Travis Bickle, Louise Sawyer and Annie Hall.

As the divorced couple Don and Ellie, De Niro and Keaton disappoint. De Niro once again delivers the type of lamentable light comedy turn that has blotted his late career with a stain the size of an ageing Marlon Brando, while Keaton, whose recent output includes Mad Money and Morning Glory, is becoming another of The Godfather clan seemingly content to accept the easy payday. Meanwhile, Sarandon - who, judging by the number of cameos she's made recently, doesn't seem to know how to turn down a role - plays the affable Don's current squeeze Bebe.

No one has a problem with this state of affairs until Don and Ellie's adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) announces he's getting married to his grad school sweetheart Missy (Amanda Seyfried). As the young couple seek the blessing of their local priest (Robin Williams, giving De Niro a run for his money in the career nadir stakes) it becomes clear that Alejandro's Colombian biological mother Madonna (Patricia Rae) is a devout Catholic who believes that Don and Ellie are still together. To keep Madonna happy, Alejandro comes up with the crackpot scheme of getting Don and Ellie to pretend they are married for the wedding weekend.

The plot and casting call for so much suspension of belief it makes "happily ever after" seem a realistic proposition. If it's possible to buy into the central pretence, accepting Barnes as a Colombian needs the acting equivalent of turning coal into diamonds.

The fact that Jean-Stéphane Bron's Mon Frère Se Marie was a biting farce about social mores and the class system only adds to the feeling that the director Justin Zackham (best known for writing The Bucket List) has erred in marrying the premise to a schmaltzy domestic tale with erratic screwball elements.


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