INDIEWATCH: ‘The Big Wedding’ a lightweight disappointment with heavy-hitters

“The Big Wedding” is now available on streaming, and for those who missed it in theaters, you may have saved some dough.

It stars Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro as ex-spouses, Ellie and Don, who reunite for their adopted son’s nuptials. The hitch is they have to pretend to still be married because their son’s biological mom is way religious.

It’s a pretty loose reason for a weekend of chaos, but “The Big Wedding” tries its hardest to make this charming to no avail. With a huge cast of star power — Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Amanda Seyfried — there are too many cooks in the kitchen in this modern family rom-com.

Katherine Heigl plays a borderline lush and Susan Sarandon “the other woman” in “The Big Wedding.”

Bebe (Sarandon) is Don’s live-in girlfriend of 10 years, Lyla (Heigl) is boozing from the stress of a failed marriage, and Jared (Grace) is a 30-year-old virgin who’s saving himself for love.

The tamest characters are soon-to-be wed Missy (Seyfried) and Alejandro (Ben Barnes), who fight to stay positive despite looming family drama. Robin Williams plays a Catholic priest caricature who heads the wedding ceremony, and his comedic genius seems a distant memory.

From the get go, “The Big Wedding” plays more off of its cast than its plot.

Ellie (Keaton) walks in on Don and Bebe on the cusp of cunnilingus, Lyla is so drunk she vomits on Don the first time she sees him and Jared (Grace) flips from successful doctor to raucous lothario as he pursues his adopted brother’s biological sister.

It plays out a bit like a soap opera that touts a lot of characters and a lot of shenanigans.

Don (Robert De Niro) gets decked by his live-in girlfriend in front of his ex-wife, Ellie (Diane Keaton) in “The Big Wedding,” now available on streaming.

 

The kicking-someone-under-the-table schtick is used often, and the actors seem a bit noncommittal throughout — save for Robert De Niro.

This Oscar-winning powerhouse delivers moments of depth in comedies “Stardust” and “Meet the Parents,” and it’s no different in “The Big Wedding.”

In one scene, Don and Lyla are reconciling their difficult father-daughter relationship, and De Niro has one pure moment of grief and conflict, that made me nearly tear up.

Except for that, the acting in this film is ho-hum, though “The Big Wedding” does a decent job of sets and clothing — bright and light. The music definitely matches this film’s candid tone, though sometimes overpowering during scenes of hijinks.

“The Big Wedding” looks like a cute family movie, but it has a hard R rating with a lot of swearing and sexual content. If you’re in the mood for a silly escape in lieu of another blizzard, this may work for you, though, I hate to admit, “The Big Wedding” did nothing for me.

Grade: F

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

Red Riding Hood’s formula is tween gold

Catherine Hardwicke decided to bank on the for-sure money-making demographic: tweens, and direct the new film, RED RIDING HOOD, starring Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman. Hardwicke hit the jackpot with TWILIGHT, the first film of the hit saga. But for No. 2 in the series, she was replaced with director Chris Weitz (seemingly because he knew how to work CG animals, i.e. his polar bears in GOLDEN COMPASS. Note for non-Twilighters: NEW MOON features werewolves!)

RED RIDING HOOD

I wondered if as an added “sock it to the studio that dumped me,” she picked RED RIDING HOOD to direct so she could show just how well she’d pull off the effects for a big, bad wolf. And…she did an OK job. (They still weren’t as good as NEW MOON’s, sorry Catherine.)

That aside, the movie was exactly what might appeal to those trying to gain from TWILIGHT-mania overflow: a love triangle, little adventure, lots of fantasy. It takes place during an ambiguous time period that “could be” post-apocolyptic or hundreds of years ago. (For director Hardwicke, this might have been an afterthought/easy explanation for granny wearing dreadlocks and a headscarf in the movie.)

It wasn’t much of a film. I had fun playing the guessing game, and Hardwicke obviously had fun bouncing suspicion among characters. Gary Oldman can’t really do period pieces anymore, Virginia Madsen takes a huge step down from her Oscar-nominated days and  we’re introduced to two new budding heart-throbs: Shiloh Fernandez (the bad boy) and Max Irons (the one your mom likes).

Not surprisingly, the ending kept it open for a sequel, which I’m sure would be right up director Hardwicke’s alley, prime for her wallet, and would show those big, bad execs at Summit Entertainment that she can handle directing a saga.

Here’s the trailer.

Just to spread the love, this song stuck in my head while I wrote. Hope you enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JOwxnVoG6Q