THE BIG WEDDING isn't a bad movie, just an evil one. The fact that it appears to have been competently made is much more unsettling than if it were a mistake: Watching the film is like watching a craftsman who could've devoted his engineering talents to building better prosthetics or artificial heart valves, but instead he buries depleted uranium landmines beneath a third-world schoolyard. What sort of evil could seduce such a scientist down the path of the wicked? You guessed it! KATHERINE HEIGL. DUNT DUNT DUNNNN!
The odd thing about The Big Wedding is that it feels like writer/director Justin Zackham wanted to make a strangely subversive sex comedy for grandparents, but was only allowed to do so if he ticked off every box on the romcom cliché checklist. What we end up with is a bizarre amalgam in which a 69-year-old Robert De Niro brags about "laying pipe" on Diane Keaton and frankly discusses—and then attempts—cunnilingus on Susan Sarandon. All of this takes place within the context of a wedding romcom that otherwise could've been Frankensteined together from outtakes of Love Actually and She's Just Not That Into You.
An abridged list of romcom tropes appearing in The Big Wedding:
• Set in a huge old house in New England
• Old exes rekindle relationship (... in a film starring Diane Keaton)
• Handjob under the dinner table scene
• Characters competing to take the too-old virgin's virginity (Topher Grace's 29-year-old doctor character, in this case)
• Robin Williams high-lariously stunt cast as a priest
• Katherine Heigl
• "The List" (male character has to complete a checklist to win a woman's heart, probably the second-oldest stock sitcom storyline next to...)
• "The Visit" (someone's conservative relatives are visiting, so characters have to pretend to be not gay/divorced/living together)
• The big third-act speech to get the woman back
• The switcheroo wedding
• The risqué sculpture reveal
The list goes on, but I have a word limit. As for the weird sex comedy hidden beneath the turd tinsel, well, I try not to rag on aging actors for being old, which seems shortsighted, but still. That doesn't mean I want to see a POV shot filmed from the perspective of Susan Sarandon's vagina, depicting Robert De Niro leering hungrily at it. How 'bout SaranDON'T, am I right?
The Big Wedding is weird and not good, but I would pay to Kickstart whatever Harmony Korine-esque genre prank Justin Zackham was initially attempting. There's a character in The Big Wedding named "Alejandro" who was supposed to be an adopted Colombian boy whose in-laws are repeatedly racist towards him—who was literally played by an English guy with a fake tan. I don't know how to read that except as a meta-joke about the lily whiteness of the genre.