Updated: April 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm
'Marriage is like a phone call late at night, ' Robert De Niro says, in dulcet voice-over mode, at the outset of 'The Big Wedding. ' 'First comes the ring, and then you wake up. '
Rim shot, please.
Except in Justin Zackham's sedated farce, there are no rim shots. The jokes are just splayed out there, accompanied by the strums of a guitar on the soundtrack.
Adapted from a 2006 French comedy, and boasting a cross-generational cast of daunting and not-so daunting stature, 'The Big Wedding ' throws up a messy web of relationships, a tangle of siblings and spouses, lovers and lunatics, intersecting in illicit and illogical ways. In order to pull off this sort of business, the pace should be breakneck, there shouldn't be an extra second to contemplate the moral lapses and betrayals. Alas, 'The Big Wedding, ' which inches along like a stoned snail, gives us all the time in the world.
Don and Ellie Griffin (De Niro and Diane Keaton) are a long-divorced couple whose adopted son, Alejandro (Ben Barnes), is about to be married - to Amanda Seyfried's Missy. Don, a sculptor, lives with Bebe (Susan Sarandon), who was once Ellie's best friend.
Although Don and Bebe aren't married, she is like a loving stepmom to Don and Ellie's kids - Jared (Topher Grace), a closing-in-on-30 doctor who's still a virgin; Lyla (Katherine Heigl), a brooder who has just broken up with her beau; and Alejandro, who originally hailed from Columbia
Let's see, who's left? Robin Williams, as Father Moinighan, the Catholic priest who will preside over the ceremony.
Ensemble comedy overload!
As the randy, philandering patriarch, De Niro gets punched around more times than Jake LaMotta. Keaton brings her natural comedic talents to the proceedings, and Sarandon acquits herself with saucy flair.
No one is bad in 'The Big Wedding, but no one is remotely believable, either. The relationships are mapped out without regard to plausibility or common sense.
Which is all fine and good in a screwball romp. If only 'The Big Wedding ' played like one.