Alejandro Griffin (Ben Barnes) is about to marry Missy O’Connor (Amanda Seyfried), the love of his life. The only problem? Alejandro’s uber-religious biological mother (Patricia Rae as Madonna. No, not that Madonna) is attending the ceremony and will reportedly take great umbrage to the fact that Alejandro’s adoptive parents are divorced. Hijinks (do not) ensue when the Griffins agree to pretend to married for the sake of smooth sailing at the wedding, despite the fact that Don Griffin (Robert De Niro) now lives with Bebe McBride (Susan Sarandon), Ellie Griffin’s (Diane Keaton) former best friend.[Review contains spoilers – though not really, because anyone who sees this film will be able to connect the most obvious of dots.]
Oh, where to start? First off, I would like to thank the main guest at the wedding, codependency. Though the Griffins adopted Alejandro more than 15 years ago, somehow everyone decides to frantically scramble to please Madonna – a woman who gave up her son for adoption in hopes that he’d have a better life. (Never mind that Madonna also has a daughter that she raised, who apparently is not eligible for the upgrade to wealthy American parents.) No one has seen or spoken to Madonna in the intervening years leading up to Alejandro’s wedding, but they suddenly remember that she is Catholic. And there is nothing a Catholic abhors more than divorce.
Here’s where codependency takes center stage. Instead of – oh, I don’t know – simply telling Madonna the truth, the family agrees to take the ridiculous course of elaborately lying to her. A ton of credit goes to Madonna (no last name that I caught, other than “Devout Catholic from Colombia who conveniently doesn’t speak a word of English.”) – apparently she’s able to send the entire party into a tizzy, simply by showing up. I didn’t have this much pull on my wedding day when I was the bride.
I probably should’ve mentioned that the film starts off with lusty-in-love senior citizens, Don and Bebe, chatting about cunnilingus as they stroll in the door of their mansion by the lake. Though Don mentions that he “just had lunch,” he is more than happy to “eat again.” The fact that he lifts Bebe up onto the kitchen counter and proceeds to remove her underwear leaves no mistaking to his meaning – though I wished to god they weren’t quite so literal. Apparently god couldn’t hear me – probably because I’m not Catholic. Unfortunately Don’s dessert goes awry when his ex-wife, Ellie, stumbles into the room after letting herself in with the spare key that hasn’t changed location since their divorce more than a decade ago. Why is she letting herself in? Because she’s going to stay at said lakeside mansion, with her ex-husband and ex-best friend, during the wedding weekend. Of course she is!
Could everyone please keep their pants on? Seriously.
If cunnilingus-interruptus wasn’t enough, the film also costars the incredibly annoying Katherine Heigl as Lyla Griffin, Bob and Ellie’s oldest daughter. Yes, I was equally traumatized by the Heigl as I was by having to watch Susan Sarandon’s Bebe pull up her panties by the kitchen island. That should tell you something. Not to mention Katherine is sporting the most matronly haircut of the entire cast – and that includes Muffin’s (Christine Ebersole, as Missy’s mom) wig. Katherine’s character Lyla mopes around the entire film, having just left her husband (the delightful, but barely there, Kyle Bornheimer as Andrew) because she can’t conceive. She throws up and often gets dizzy – but she couldn’t possibly be pregnant after all… could she? (Spoiler alert – of course she is!)
Note to Katherine Heigl: the only women who got away with spread-eagle, Cosmo-infused happy hours starred on Sex & The City.
Speaking of Muffin, and her husband Barry (David Rasche); they’re quite the lovely couple! Not only is Barry being investigated for insider trading, he and Muffin are also racists. What fun. Though the O’Connor’s are broke, they are still putting up a rich front for the sake of Missy’s wedding – including hosting a dinner at the exclusive country club they belong to. However, when they learn that Madonna and her daughter (Ana Ayora as Nuria) are joining them that evening, they book a private outside table, even though a storm is coming, so the other members of their club won’t have to see them dining with “those people.” They also pronounce their future son-in-law’s name as if their mouths are full of marbles. How can these white people possibly be expected to pronounce a name as exotic as “Alejandro,” after all? Oh, and they fret that their daughter will produce “beige babies.” This is what passes as acceptable comedy, much less an acceptable storyline?
The O’Connor’s aren’t alone in their not-so-veiled racism. Lyla asks who she “has to lynch around here to get a Cosmo” while at the perceivably all-Caucasian country club. And Missy’s priest (the grating Robin Williams as Father Monighan) asks if Harvard-educated Alejandro can speak English. At this point you’ve got to ask why Alejandro wants to join himself to Missy’s family, regardless of how vapidly cute Amanda Seyfried’s Missy is.
Personally Blondie’s family would be a deal-breaker from me.
The fun ain’t done yet! The sexual shindigs and innuendos continue to pepper themselves throughout the movie. Topher Grace plays Jared, the youngest Griffin son. He’s a 29-year old doctor who’s a virgin, waiting to do the deed until he’s in love. That is until he meets his adoptive brother’s sister, Nuria, and decides he needs to bang her, posthaste; preferably in his boyhood bedroom while his family is milling around. All is going according to plan, until Ellie catches Nuria giving Jared a hand-job at the dinner table (which we all know is a sacred plot point in the hilarious Wedding Crashers). Ellie intercepts Nuria at the rained-out rehearsal supper and tells her to cut out acting like a hobag; she deserves to be treated with respect. Nuria then starts deflecting Jared’s horny advances, so much so that Jared complains to Ellie, “I can’t believe I’m getting cock-blocked by my own mom.”
Don also decides to get in on the inappropriate sharing with his children when he beds Ellie while Bebe is out of the house, and proceeds to tell his daughter Lyla that he “laid pipe for 40 minutes.” I don’t know if I’d barf, cry, or run screaming if my dad ever uttered the phrase “lay pipe” to me. Probably all three.
But wait – there’s more! It’s revealed that Ellie cheated on the much-maligned Don first, with Missy’s dad Barry, back in the day. Missy turns to Alejandro and says, “My dad’s penis has been inside your mom’s vagina.” Thank you for breaking that down for us, Missy. I needed to hear exactly what happened. Barry’s not the only cheater in the O’Conner house – it turns out the conveniently-named Muffin is bisexual. (Though she doesn’t admit to being a lesbian – she simply licks her lips at Bebe and Ellie, saying she has “fetishes.”)
We’re having the time of our lives flushing our careers down the toilet!
Do I really need to go on? The Big Wedding, a remake of the 2006 French movie Mon frère se marie, is chocked full of great actors (save Heigl and Williams), yet inexplicably fails to entertain. I have seen worse, but that’s only because I had to review Tyler Perry’s Temptation last month. I almost wondered if The Big Wedding was penned by Perry, given the shared plot device of using religion in tandem with racism, homophobia and misogyny. Instead screenwriter Justin Zackham (The Bucket List) gets the “credit” for this release. I’d make a joke about “release” because I know he wouldn’t hesitate – but I’m anxious to reward myself for sitting through this mess by actually drinking my beers now.
Despite a big name cast, The Big Wedding sets the bar incredibly low.
Take a Drink: every time Don gets punched in the face.
Take a Drink: every time there’s a cultural impasse. That’s putting it nicely…
Take a Drink: every time there’s a sexual innuendo made…
Take a Drink: every time there’s a trio of sick ladies coughing in the theater. Oh, wait – that was just my luck.
Do a Shot: for Jared’s awesome shirt, “Owls Are Assholes.” It’s probably the funniest part of the movie.
Nada. That’s Spanish for “nothing,” as Alejaaaaandro would be able to tell you.