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Byron Shire
September 28, 2021

The Big Wedding

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 John Campbell

The word wedding in any title is a bankable asset. We know what we’re in for when we see it, and we toddle along in happy anticipation of a soft-focused, pastel-coloured cruise to a joyous al fresco ceremony. Even better if we encounter juicy family ‘issues’ along the way.

Aimed at a more elderly crowd, this one has replaced the likes of Hugh Grant and Ben Stiller with the revered Robert De Niro as leading man. Sporting a distinguished grey beard, the once-was Travis Bickle probably extended himself more in his American Express commercial than he does as Don, a uniquely wealthy sculptor. He owns the sort of lakeside haven that is a prerequisite for the genre and enters discussing cunnilingus with his partner Bebe (Susan Sarandon). The pair then prepares to do it on the kitchen bench. It is a forced, tacky scene and can only have passed muster at the script conference because it was deemed racy enough to titillate its greying audience and make them feel that, despite their years, they are still ‘out there’ and on the cutting edge.

The Colombian mother of Alejandro (Ben Barnes), Don’s adopted son, arrives for his nuptials but, being a devout Latino Catholic, she disapproves of divorce, which leads to Ellie (Diane Keaton), Don’s ex, moving in with him for the duration and Bebe catering for the reception. Lyla (Katherine Heigl), Don’s daughter, turns up weepy and pouty after dumping her boyfriend, who had been told she was incapable of having children (can you guess what her surprise is?), while Alejandro’s red-hot sister sets her sights on Jared (Topher Grace), Don’s genetic son, a late-twenties virgin, and can’t wait to grab hold of his penis under the table at their first sunny luncheon.

Amanda Seyfried, the bride, swans around being sweet, and Robin Williams gives his usual mugging performance as the priest. Characters swapping roles is an ancient device rich in comic potential, but this is as funny as a bowel movement in a swimming pool.

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