With a gaggle of talented Oscar, Emmy, and Tony-winning actors, one would expect Justin Zackham’s The Big Wedding to leap off the screen in terms of entertainment value; instead, this lead-footed farce adapted from a French comedy is mostly a forgettable dud. Everyone’s trying hard to make a soufflé out of the ingredients present, but very little of it works, and what does involves more touching and human moments than the zany ones which simply never take off.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 08/13/2013
With her adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) getting married to the pert Missy (Amanda Seyfried), long divorced Ellie (Diane Keaton) returns to the home place where her ex-husband Don (Robert De Niro) now lives with Bebe (Susan Sarandon) though they have never married. Also attending are Ellie and Don’s biological children Lyla (Katherine Heigl), who’s just separated from her husband, and Jared (Topher Grace), a doctor and a virgin who’s saving himself for his wedding night. Into the wedding party comes Alejandro’s biological mother Madonna (Patricia Rae) who’s unaware that Ellie and Don are no longer married and Al’s sister Nuria (Ana Ayora) who’s looking for someone to make love to and naturally chooses Jared. Since Madonna is a strict Catholic, the family decides to hide from her that Ellie and Don are divorced which brings out all kinds of secrets and lies leading up to the actual nuptials.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
Based on the screenplay for the French film Mon frere se marie, director Justin Zackham’s script and his pacing of the movie aren’t really zany enough to constitute farce. True, very few of the characters resemble anything living or breathing on this earth, and the various ways they find to put their feet into their mouths or to do things that intelligent, grounded people wouldn’t think about doing in these circumstances never ring true. Everything feels forced and unfunny from the opening scene of Ben performing cunnilingus on Bebe in the kitchen while Ellie stands watching to Nuria giving Jared an obvious hand job at the rehearsal dinner through to a climactic impromptu wedding which ends the film only somewhat satisfactorily (we never get the scenes of genuine apologies from various characters for overstepping their boundaries). Zackham has written quite a few unlikable and irritating characters which makes their earning our rooting interest a real challenge that the writer doesn’t meet successfully, and there are no surprises: people hook up with those whom we expect and quarrels are settled with minimal explanations. Despite the enormously talented cast, it’s by-the-numbers filmmaking.
Imagine a comedy in which Robin Williams is the most subdued and appealing character! He plays the priest who’s interested in performing the ceremony only if the couple promise to bring their children up in the Catholic faith (neither are particularly religious). Robert De Niro’s character is the film’s most off-putting one: he’s been on the wagon due to Bebe’s influence for a decade, but he takes this time to start drinking and smoking again enough to get fall-down drunk and tell all of the family secrets. Diane Keaton isn’t very likable either, behaving as if all of her brain cells had suddenly evaporated in dealing so poorly with the machinations of the subterfuge they’re trying to pull off. Patricia Rae is a deadpan presence (and a black hole of comedy) as the Colombian mother trying to make sense of these wacky Americans. Susan Sarandon’s Bebe takes the high ground for awhile, but her character later becomes as infantile and embarrassing as the other adults. Christine Ebersole as the mother of Amanda Seyfried’s Missy gives a very theatrical performance of a woman who’s indulged in the plastic surgeon’s knife a bit too much.
Of the younger performers, Ben Barnes is the most appealing, hiding his natural British accent with a most plausible American one and speaking Spanish to his biological mother as if a native. Topher Grace’s doctor is about as naïve and bumbling as we’ve seen in a comedy in awhile, and one might think twice about leaving a patient in his charge. Amanda Seyfried has the least of the principals to do in all the wild plotting and makes a bland impression. And then there’s Katherine Heigl who brings all the angst and drama to the proceedings. She effectively plays her heartbroken character, but her pouting and withering way with a line seems a bit misplaced in what is otherwise supposed to be a farce.
The film’s theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is nicely handled throughout without ever seeming edgy, and flesh tones are mostly natural and appealing though a couple of the older ladies are using thicker make-up which comes off as pasty-looking. Color otherwise is well maintained, and the film transfer deals with an excess of white in the wedding very adroitly. Black levels are likewise very good. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is very typical for a comedy. The music score by Nathan Barr and a selection of standards does most of the surround work in the fronts and rears for the mix. There is very little use of the rears for sound effects even though a noisy restaurant and the wedding reception could have used a more enveloping feel. Dialogue has been well recorded and resides firmly in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Coordinating The Big Wedding (16:02, HD): this featurette contains interviews with all of the principal cast members as well as director Justin Zackham, producers Clay Pecorin and Richard Salvatore, and the film’s production designer Andrew Jackness and costume designer Aude Bronson-Howard. They all discuss the marvels of working with each other either previously or for the first time and have enormous praise for the well-coordinated shoot.
Special Features Rating: 1/5
Promo Trailers: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Friends with Kids, Peeples, Ring of Fire.
Digital Copy and Ultraviolet: enclosed code number inside the keep case.
The Big Wedding isn’t literally or figuratively very big. The comedy doesn’t work for the most part, and despite a fascinating array of talented artists, the movie’s most effective scenes don’t have anything to do with making people laugh. This one is a missed opportunity.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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