The Big Wedding
Award-winning actors wasted in forgettable, racy comedy.
The Big Wedding
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Big Wedding is racier than most family wedding comedies. There's lots of sexual content -- the opening scene shows Robert De Niro about to perform oral sex on Susan Sarandon -- as well as discussion of virginity, sexual orientation, and open marriage. Racist stereotypes are in play throughout the film, especially through a hypersexualized young Colombian woman. Catholicism is regularly mocked as backward and repressed, and there are gay jokes. There's also adultery, public displays of (more than) affection, and brief nudity (a woman's naked behind and side are visible as she skinny-dips). You can also expect frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," etc.) and drinking (the father and the priest both joke about their experiences with alcoholism).
Don’t be fooled by the cast!
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What's the Story?
THE BIG WEDDING finds Ellie (Diane Keaton) returning to her former home with her ex-husband, Don (Robert De Niro), for the wedding weekend of their Colombian adopted son, Alejandro (Ben Barnes), and his fiancée, Missy (Amanda Seyfried). But when Alejandro realizes that his devout Catholic birth mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae), doesn't know that his parents are divorced, he asks them to pretend to be married for the weekend. This means that Don's live-in girlfriend (and Ellie's former best friend), Bebe (Susan Sarandon), has to move out, and older siblings Lyla (Katherine Heigl) and Jared (Topher Grace) all have to play along. When Madonna and her beautiful daughter Nuria (Ana Ayora) arrive, the already dysfunctional family is thrown into disarray trying to keep Don and Ellie's divorce a secret.
Is It Any Good?
How such a talented group of actors could have signed on for such a mediocre comedy is a mystery. Writer-director Justin Zackham has included so many ridiculous plot points in The Big Wedding that the entire movie is hard not to scoff through -- like the idea that Ellie would be so forgiving to a best friend who slept with her husband, or that long-divorced exes would have sex when one of them is in a committed relationship, or that a 29-year-old virgin who promised to wait for love would forget all of that at the sight of his adopted brother's hot birth sister. The examples go on and on, and instead of being funny, they just make it obvious why the movie is little more than a series of gags strung together over one ludicrous weekend. The humor punches down at Colombians, Catholics, the Spanish language, Asian countries, queer people -- you name it -- while a "default" Protestant White American family is positioned as the well-intentioned, if sometimes prejudiced, norm.
It's a shame that such a talented ensemble couldn't have gathered for a better movie. Instead, The Big Wedding will make audiences wistful for far funnier wedding or family reunion comedies like Father of the Bride, Meet the Parents, or My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Sure, there are a few low-hanging laughs, but for the most part, the only noteworthy aspect of the movie is that it reminds viewers that sexuality doesn't simply disappear in older age, and that women, too, can (and should) experience pleasure well into their 60s.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of wedding movies. Why are weddings such a popular setting for both drama and comedy?
Discuss the idea that family is more than biology. How does Alejandro view his family? Why are Bebe and Ellie able to overcome the adultery in their past? Do you think the family's interactions are believable?
Alejandro's Colombian background is brought up again and again as a matter of concern to Missy's racist parents, sometimes right in front of him. How might you react in this scenario? Would you confront your partner's parents or hold your tongue? How might this make you feel in the hours, days, or even months after such racist incidents?
- In theaters: April 26, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 13, 2013
- Cast: Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon
- Director: Justin Zackham
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual content and brief nudity
- Last updated: March 2, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Father of the Bride
Appealing remake has sweet messages, sexual references.
My Best Friend's Wedding
Sexist '90s screwball comedy has cursing, smoking, drinking.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Cute romcom has some innuendo, a little language.
Crude but sincere comedy about friendship and confidence.
For kids who love family comedies
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