Director Gary Marshall has made some great movies over the years (i.e. Pretty Woman – come on, it’s a classic). But I can’t understand why he keeps trying to make these terrible ensemble movies: Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and now to a different extent – The Big Wedding. Generally speaking I’m a fan of an ensemble cast – celebrities aplenty, never knowing who will make a cameo or who will pop up next as a potential costar. But these types of films are only as good as their story, their plot, and their heart. Having seen Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve (two of the worst holidays) were missing all three.
These movies seem to be trying to recreate the strength and heart of one of my favourite ensemble and holiday movies: Love Actually. I remember going to the theatre with friends when it came out in 2003, there was nothing quite like it. Such strong performances, tales of celebrated and wildly excited love, silent heartbreak and pain – issues that pulled you and made you feel invested. My heart broke for Laura Linney’s complex family situation and Emma Thompson’s devastating revelation. These painful, cutting scenes played just as sincere and true as the happier ones. I cheered for Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister as he one-upped creepy US President Billy Bob Thorton and I reveled in the joy of Kiera Knightley’s wedding – particularly when the band started to play. Liam Neeson and his little step son waxing philosophical on the validity of true love was touching and truly special. Love Actually really has something. I’ve watched it many times and it still has the ability to make me laugh and tear up at the same time.
Love Actually is a beloved film, (especially among women) and it stands to reason that Gary Marshall would want to recreate the magic – except he hasn’t. Valentine’s Day had some small, cute moments, but the stories did not feel genuine, the characters didn’t connect with the audience. As much as I wanted to buy Julia Roberts as a US solider coming home to see her son for just 24 hours – it just wasn’t believable. She was too polished, too perfect (as she often is) and it just didn’t compute. Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner as a high school couple in love were very annoying, all the time and the list goes on. But Valentine’s Day I’d watch ten times over, before watching New Year’s Eve ever again.
Only earning a mere 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, New Year’s Eve seemed to throw as many celebrities into one movie as possible – at the expense of the story. People falling in love in what felt like five minutes, Bon Jovi unconvincingly trying to win back Katherine Heigl (who was even more unconvincing as a professional chef). Hilary Swank as a wide eyed idealist in charge of the Times Square balling dropping – there’s something about her face I’d just like to punch.
In fact the best thing to come out of New Year’s Eve was the parodies. Saturday Night Live did a particularly great one, which I can’t find a link to because I live in Canada. However! 30 Rock also brought the hilarity as usual: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0ZDMZmcom0
So now it looks like The Big Wedding is the newest Gary Marshall movie that’s sure to bomb. Allow me to break it down for you. A long-divorced couple: Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton must pretend they are still married for their adopted son’s Alejandro’s wedding. Why? Because his birth mother is coming from Columbia for the wedding and believes divorce is a sin. You know that old story…right? Talk about your ridiculous plot lines, what year is this? Not to mention that Robert DeNiro’s character now lives with a fun loving Susan Sarandon who, angered by the current situation, looks to stir the pot. Alejandro is marrying Amanda Seyfried, Robin Williams plays a priest, again. Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace co-star as Keaton and DeNiro’s other children. Hilarity ensues, I’m sure. See it for yourself below and ask yourself – why?