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the-big-wedding-18175-1920x1080“The Big Wedding” is is the kind of movie that you only buy a ticket for when everything else is sold out. You arrive at the theatre at 7:30, hungry for popcorn because you missed lunch, only to discover that “42,” the movie you really wanted to see, is packed. Ditto for “The Croods,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and even “Jurassic Park 3D.”

Then you see a poster for “The Big Wedding” and notice it stars Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton and that nice boy from “That 70s Show.”

“How bad can it be?” you think.

I’m here to tell you how bad it can be.

In a bit of farce that, no doubt, has Molière spinning in his grave, the movie has at its wizened dark heart an elaborate ruse. Alejandro (Ben Barnes) is the adopted son of a long divorced couple, Don (Robert De Niro) and Elle (Diane Keaton). Don is now happily living with Elle’s former best friend Bebe (Susan Sarandon). Al’s planned wedding to Missy (Amanda Seyfried) is going to be a big affair, but there’s a hitch. His devoutly Catholic mother is coming over from Columbia for the visit, and Al fears she won’t give her blessing to the marriage if finds out that Don and Elle are divorced, so he asks them to masquerade as a married couple for the weekend.

There’s more. Lots more. Topher Grace is the twenty-nine-year-old virgin doctor son who falls for Alejandro’s sister. Katherine Heigl is a sour-faced lawyer and Robin Williams plays a priest.

The supporting characters sound like the set-up to an old joke—A doctor, a lawyer and a priest walk into a bar!—except that there’s nothing remotely funny about any of them.

It’s frustrating not because it isn’t funny but because it wastes the talents of almost everyone involved. Forevermore when anyone tells me that De Niro is the greatest actor of his generation, my mind will flash back to his most painful scene, a bit of slapstick on a diving board. Maybe I’m in denial, but I chose to remember the good times.

The set-up sounds family friendly—everybody loves a wedding, especially grandma!—but the movie is far from it. Language and nudity make it inappropriate for kids, and the general lack of anything else makes it a no go for everybody else.

With a story as imaginative as the title and “jokes” telegraphed so far in advance you need binoculars to see them coming, “The Big Wedding” is as appealing as a cash bar at the reception. It’s bad even for a Katherine Heigl movie.

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