May 1, 2013

One Last (Meh) Movie Review

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As I sat in an empty movie theater waiting for a late afternoon showing of The Big Wedding on the last Tuesday of my undergraduate career, I questioned every decision that lead up to this moment.

How did it come to this? All alone and watching a half-heartedly constructed star-studded mess is probably my own personal hell. Was it when I decided to write for arts this semester? Was it roughly four years earlier when I first signed up for the science section? (My interests have shifted significantly since that fall of 2009). Or was it even further back than that — when I decided that applying to school in hilly, chilly Ithaca would be a good idea?

Some may argue that a liberal arts degree has little value. I would retort, however, that while this brand of education may lack employability, it makes us better and more accepting humans. The liberal arts encourage perception and consciousness of motivations. They open our minds and increase our sympathy with our fellow man.

So I’ll use the thoughtfulness that I have garnered over the past four years when I approach the mess that is this contrived family comedy.

Why would Robert De Niro, the living legend of Goodfellas and The Godfather, think that a movie in which Katherine Heigel projectile vomits on him would be a good call? (Maybe he just wanted to hang out with his buddies Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon).

Why would Robin Williams play another prying clergy member/marriage councelor after it worked out so well License to Wed?

And Amanda Siegfried, why do you always play a bride? (I suppose she does look great in white).

The latest entry in the older people having sex/we love messy modern families genre, based on the Swiss-French Mon Frère Se Marie, is painfully bad. Raunchy lines have never fallen so flat.

Family patriarch Robert De Niro lives with his ex-wife Diane Keaton’s former best friend, Susan Sarandon. Their adopted Columbian son is marrying into Amanda Siegfried’s conservative Catholic family. Her bigoted parents fear having beige grandchildren. But they should not worry — their “non-Caucasian” son-in-law is played by the very Caucasian Ben Barnes.

During a pre-wedding meeting with Priest Robin Williams, it occurs to Barnes that his adoptive parents’ divorce is a sin for his orthodox birth mother, who will be attending the wedding. Obviously, he now has to get his parents to pretend they’re still married. Obviously. Yah, I don’t get it either. But luckily this means trouble! and hijinks! ensue.

Along for the ride is bitter older daughter Katherine Heigl and son, 29-year-old virgin doctor Topher Grace. For added weirdness, Grace’s character spends the duration of the movie trying to get into his adoptive brother’s biological sister’s pants.

Confused? So was I. Choppy editing and badly timed deliveries did not help.

For a family that had trouble communicating their problems, this clan is surprisingly good at voicing their contrived feelings. Only a small nudge is needed before the any one of the ensemble cast members goes on an expository rant.

This is the type of movie where people keep falling down and bumping into one another.

At one point, things got really bad for me and no amount of popcorn could make the anger subside and sadness subside. I shouted expletives at the screen, but no one was there to hear me.

I have an underlying dread that those who can’t create, critique. I don’t think I’ve ever offered to review a film I felt would be good, but it’s open season on films that feel scripted in a boardroom.

I can’t help it though. I love movies more than anything. I relish both the escapism and the harsh reality. I adore storylines, character development and attempts at capturing the human condition.

But if none of the above is possible, at the very least I would like to laugh. And that’s why The Big Wedding fails big time.

Maybe one day I too will create something — and, just maybe, today won’t be the last time my name appears in The Cornell Daily Sun’s arts Section.

Until then, I leave you with this — at Cornell the days are long, but the weeks are short. After a while, time is parceled into moments between prelims and papers, between when problem sets are due and applications need to be completed. So much of your time at Cornell will be marked by deadlines, and deadlines have a way of speeding things up. You have been told this before. You will be told this again, and again — but take advantage of Cornell. Be grateful for your beautiful campus and your brilliant peers.

But most importantly, avoid movies where lines like “I truly loathe this place” are delivered solemnly in the trailer. We all know better than that.

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar