It's impossible to write about The Big Wedding without damning it with faint praise. It has the sort of cast that once would have once been a selling point but is now cause for skepticism, and its sprawling plot is haphazard at best. It's worth a chuckle or two, but nothing happens that you couldn't guess from sitting through the first half hour. It's probably better than writer/director Justin Zackham's script for The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, but you'd have to find someone who actually saw that saccharine mess to know.
Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro star as Ellie and Don Griffin, a divorced couple whose adopted son is getting married. Don is shacked up with Ellie's former best friend Bebe, played by Susan Sarandon, who's become a close mother figure to the grown Griffin brood. Unfortunately for Bebe, the groom-to-be Alejandro (Ben Barnes, wearing a lot of bronzer) never told his Catholic mother back in Colombia that his parents are divorced, and since she's on her way to the nuptials, he asks Ellie and Don to pretend to still be married. Why anyone goes along with this is beyond logic — but logic isn't important here. What is important is that there are plenty of awkward sexual situations (De Niro listing euphuisms for cunnilingus!), bodily functions (De Niro getting vomited on!), and slapstick (De Niro being punched in the face!).
The rest of the plot is rather exhausting to get into and plays on all sorts of icky cultural stereotypes. Alejandro's biological sister Nuria (Ana Ayora) is a gorgeous, hypersexual Latina who doesn't realize she should make men work for it until Ellie tells her about American woman's mores and some sort of possibly feminist jibber-jabber. (If Zackham read any of the hand-wringing essays or books on hook-up culture, he'd realize this is complete BS.) Alejandro's mom doesn't speak English and mostly clutches her rosary while looking on disapprovingly. Topher Grace appears as Alejandro's brother, a doctor who decided at 15 that he'd stay a virgin until he fell in love, an idea that he tosses out as soon as Nuria sheds her clothes to go for a dip in their pond. Katherine Heigl is yet another sibling with problems; she left her husband because they couldn't get pregnant, but now she's upset because he hasn't tried to get in touch with her even though she left him. Amanda Seyfried is Alejandro's fiancée; her parents are WASP-y racists who are apparently horrified that their daughter is marrying someone wearing a lot of bronzer. There's some kerfuffle about Catholicism, so they've hauled in Robin Williams to appear as a priest; he actually plays it pretty straight, which is probably for the best. The themes are: double standards, fear of revealing our true selves to the ones we love, and uproarious revelations. Except not that uproarious.
Based on the French film Mon frère se marie, The Big Wedding is ultimately as forgettable as its generic title. Zackham relies on 360 degree pans and treacly music to try and rouse the audience to care, but that's no replacement for a decent script. The only thing that sticks is De Niro's saucy satyr, which is a refreshing change from his more recent films. Keaton and Sarandon are a pleasing pair, and they deserve not only much better than this, but their own movie about cool female friends in their fifties. In fact, if everything about the wedding was scrapped and this was rewritten as a dramedy about the complicated relationship between these three, you might have an interesting movie.
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Tom Mankiewicz, who helped Richard Donner make the world believe that a man could fly in 1978's Superman, has died, reports WENN. He was 68.
Though far from a household name, fans of science fiction and action films are very familiar with Mankiewicz work, which included some of the biggest films of the 1970s. His first credited screenplay, the surfer-beach-drama The Sweet Ride, failed to catch on with audiences who were already growing tired of the Beach Party genre, but James Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli saw a playful tone in his dialogue that he wanted to bring to his flagship franchise and hired him to pen the adaptation of Diamonds Are Forever. This partnership continued with the next two Bond films, Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun.
Mankiewicz was in demand following his tenure with 007 and his status as a screenwriter capable of both witty dialogue and epic action led to a hatrick of his screenplays being produced in 1976, including the comedy Mother, Jugs and Speed (which he later adapted as a TV movie), the thriller The Cassandra Crossing and the all-star action adventure film The Eagle Has Landed with Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Rober Duvall. All of this impressive work would be overshadowed by his next project, the ambitious adaptation of the seminal superhero Superman. Mankiewicz was hired as a "creative consultant" by Alex and Ilya Salkind, producers of the film, and though his dialogue material ultimately went uncredited, all parties involved with the production have later stated that he was a major force in realizing The Man Of Steel for the big screen.
After the monstrous Superman production, Mankiewicz was again back to work as a screenwriter, this time on Superman director Richard Donner's adventure film Ladyhawke. He'd finally get the chance to direct in 1987 with the big screen transfer of Dragnet, which starred Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks and became a big hit, leading to another directing gig on 1991's John Candy comedy Delirious. Additionally, as Warner Bros. treasured script doctor, Mankiewicz polished more pages of dialogue than you can possibly imagine, including the screenplays for films like Gremlins, War Games and even Tim Burton's landmark Batman.
The prolific wordsmith also left his mark on the small screen as a writer, director and creative consultant with the classic adventure series Hart to Hart. The beloved program gave him his first crack at directing and he stayed on as a consultant throughout it's run. He also had a few directing credits in the 90s, including an episode of Tales From The Crypt and telefilm Taking the Heat.
With a storied career like this, it's easy to overlook the fact that Mankiewicz was, in fact, a second generation filmmaker, following in his father's and uncle's footsteps. His father, Joseph L Mankiewicz, the Oscar-winning writer and director of the 1950 film All About Eve, was one of the most celebrated filmmakers of his era while uncle Herman J Mankiewicz co-wrote Citizen Kane with Orson Welles - not too shabby for one Hollywood family.
Mankiewicz passed away at his home in Los Angeles after battling cancer. He underwent the Whipple operation, which is used to treat pancreatic cancer, three months ago. The cause of the death was not immediately known. He is survived by a large family that includes Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz.
Source: WENN, The Auteurs, Real Bollywood