Coarse, crude but often cute, “The Big Wedding” serves up the spectacle of its title, and the bigger spectacle of four AARP-eligible Oscar winners cursing like sailors.
A teasing sex farce littered with f-bombs and c-words, it’s the filthiest (sounding) movie of the year — so far.
Justin Zackham’s adaptation of the French comedy “Mon frere se marie” benefits from old pros Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams, all playing cynics conspiring or blundering into butchering the wedding of poor Missy (Amanda Seyfried) and Alejandro (Ben Barnes). Alejandro’s the adopted Colombian son of Don (De Niro) and Ellie (Keaton). Only they’re divorced.
Don, a swaggering “little blue helper”-loving sculptor, lives with Bebe (Sarandon), who cheated with him more than a decade ago. But now Ellie is back for the wedding, and Alejandro’s long-absent, unbendingly Catholic birth mother (Patricia Rae), who is already putting them through the wringer with the seriously narrow-minded priest (Williams), won’t understand how divorced parents can have raised her boy to know what marriage should be.
So Don and Ellie pretend they’re still married. Bebe, hurt, flees — but doesn’t. After all, she’s planned the wedding. Don is on the wagon. For now. And Ellie may still have the hots for him.
Then there’s Alejandro’s stepsister Lyla (Katherine Heigl), split from her husband and resentful of the father who expects them to bond in some kind of “father-daughter Kumbaya on a stick” moment. And Jared (Topher Grace), their virginal doctor brother, meets Nuria (Ana Ayora), Alejandro’s oversexed Colombian sister, who promptly strips, skinny dips and hurls herself at poor Jared.
What could go wrong?
“Big Wedding” has a witty script that wears its French origins well, and the players are a pleasure to watch.
The best wedding comedies — “My Best Friend’s Wedding” is still the gold standard — keep emotions close to the surface and a song on everybody’s lips. “The Big Wedding” does OK by the music but blows the emotional bits. And it never quite works itself into a farcical lather. But many of the one-liners and insane situations land. Wedding dinners and pre-ceremony fights are filled with jaw-dropping revelations and embarrassing stumbles.
That’s almost too much to pack into an old-fashioned, new-profanity R-rated romp, a gentle, older-skewing comedy that would have been far less jarring as a PG-13.