Full stars, all dark – big names sell out to poor script

Bebe (Susan Sarandon, left), Father Moinighan (Robin Williams, center) and Don (Robert De Niro, right) in THE BIG WEDDING.  Photo credit: Barry Wetcher
Bebe (Susan Sarandon, left), Father Moinighan (Robin Williams, center) and Don (Robert De Niro, right) in THE BIG WEDDING. Photo credit: Barry Wetcher

Hollywood loves weddings. They have them all the time, usually in posh houses in California, or on a beach.

It’s a chance to embarrass the guests when things go wrong. In England they had four (and a funeral), one too many for some people’s taste.

Across the pond they prefer Botox-stretched matrons and Viagra-hooked seniors.

The only thing big about The Big Wedding is the cast. It smells of class. Pity the script doesn’t share. Or add sparkle to the stars.

What, in the name of bad choices, is Robin Williams doing playing a minister of the church? He doesn’t raise a laugh. He doesn’t raise anything. Except a champagne flute ... and a question about why he has to pay the mortgage with rubbish like this.

Robert De Niro turns on the charm as an artist who has been living with a caterer (Susan Sarandon) for years without tying the knot. His wife (Diane Keaton) has been off the premises for a decade and now turns up, like a happy coincidence, because their adopted son is getting married.

Here’s where the plot goes loopy-loo. Their adopted son has a birth mother, who is South American, where, they think, morality is Catholic and conformist, which means if she comes, which she does, she would disapprove of the living out of wedlock situation, and so De Niro decides that he and his estranged wife should pretend to be together, leaving the caterer to concentrate on the grub.

The film is delightfully cynical about marriage before losing its nerve and wallowing in sentiment. Keaton and Sarandon are on fine form – it’s nice to see them, despite what they have to say. Bob’s randy old fox is a long way from the stiff-necked ex-CIA hitman in Meet The Parents. He’s having a ball, it appears.

Why is The Big Wedding less than its component parts? Why are creme eggs not made with cream?

Comedy has become institutionalised. In a tick-box society, innovation is a scary thing.

Stay with what you know. And what Hollywood knows is famous faces, marketing and wedding bells.