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'The Big Wedding' review: RSVP: Don't go

Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton)

Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton) in "The Big Wedding," directed by Justin Zackham. In theaters on April 26, 2013. Credit: Lionsgate Film

Some people cry at weddings. Viewers of this film will cry at having spent money for "The Big Wedding."

Ostensibly poking fun at the society rituals of Caucasian Connecticut, this comedy of a family's wedding weekend offers such good old-fashioned comic racism as a priest (Robin Williams) asking the adopted, Colombian-born groom if he speaks English -- and blithely paying no attention when the Harvard-educated Alejandro (Ben Barnes) replies both in English and in Chinese, two of his five languages. Elsewhere, we have a dad-to-be in a hospital waiting room, being informed by the nurse that he's just become a father -- evidently the last father since 1975 not to be in the birthing room when his child is born. Oh, and a lady faints, which generally hasn't been done since about 1955.

One might think "The Big Wedding" is being ironically retro, but there isn't any such self-awareness at work -- writer-director Justin Zackham, screenwriter of the equally divorced-from-reality film "The Bucket List" (2007), doesn't seem to exist in a world of normal conversation, modern mores and, well, 2013.

Even the premise, borrowed from the French comedy "Mon Frère Se Marie" (2006), is one hoary sitcom cliche: The groom's divorced parents, Don and Ellie (Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton) must pretend to be married so as not to upset Alejandro's Catholic birth mother (Patricia Rae). Of course, that ticks off Don's live-in lady friend (Susan Sarandon). Wacky complications do not ensue.

Add Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace as Don and Ellie's other two kids, Amanda Seyfried as bride Missy and Ana Ayora as Alejandro's seductive Colombian sister, and you've pretty much got the recipe for one of those star-studded 1960s romps like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Except this movie plays like an episode of "Gilligan's Island" done as straight as an episode of "Lost." This is all one starry, starry blight.

PLOT Mix-ups ensue at a society wedding in Greenwich, where the groom's divorced parents must pretend to still be married.

RATING R (language, sexual content, brief nudity)

CAST Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace Ben Barnes, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams


BOTTOM LINE Produced in 2012, except for the jokes and the whole set-up, produced in about 1955

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