Are there good points? The production quality is excellent and so is most of the acting. The groom is given one of the sweetest wedding presents on record. While Griffin family members are unabashed heathens, they are interesting and often sympathetic. De Niro’s character is almost completely unpleasant, but even he loves his only daughter (Katherine Heigl, 27 Dresses) and conveys that in a touching scene. There’s a lot of grace displayed, especially between Don’s ex-wife and current mistress. Bebe models a selfless kind of love when she puts the needs of her lover’s son before her own in order to help his big day go off without a hitch. It doesn’t, of course, but no matter how ugly everyone gets, they all come together for the predictable Hollywood version of a happy ending. Broken as they are, the entire Griffin family loves each other as best they can, but as fallen people living in a very fallen world, their best is often painful to watch. "There are different kinds of love," the priest says, and he's right. It’s just a shame this movie focuses so much on the carnal kinds and barely touches on anything else.

If invited to this Big Wedding my advice would be to RSVP "with regrets" and find something better to do.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Considerable drinking by most of the characters; at least two are identified as recovering alcoholics. One turns up drunk, later says he “drank my face off” at a previous time. Man shown smoking two cigarettes simultaneously after extended sex act.
  • Language/Profanity: Probably 90% of the dialogue is about sex with a variety of crude terms used. References to erections, intercourse, body parts, etc. were so extensive a comprehensive list isn't possible. Assume that if there’s a demeaning term for it, that term was probably part of the script. The f-word makes multiple appearances; God’s name is used as an expletive; sh** used alone and in combination, dou***bag; a character refers to being "co**blocked by my own mother;" "Thank Christ" said sarcastically. One character says “I guess we’re going to hell” and the priest replies “all in good time” and later says “hell it is, then” in response to a later comment.
  • Sex/Nudity: See note about sexual references above. Nude woman shown diving into lake; full rear and side nudity. Male shown in pajama bottoms, bare chest. Two couples heard having sex at different times (loud and graphic noises); later seen disheveled. Adult children discuss their parents’ sex lives “my father had his pe*** in your mom” and so on. The whole family chats about “tantric sex,” apparently a practice allowing participants to engage in marathon bouts of intercourse. Regarding adultery: “It didn’t mean anything” one character swears, “it was practically an accident.”  Another claims “no one ever died from dabbling” and apologized not for the betrayal but because “things didn’t work out.” A woman confesses to “fetishes” like lusting after other women. Sex outside marriage is more common than sex within marriage. More than one couple shown in bed together, none married. Woman asks a man she just met to “make love to me.” The idea that anyone would consider such behavior problematic is seen as laughable.
  • Violence: De Niro’s character is punched/slapped in the face several times. A few pratfalls played for laughs.
  • Spiritual Themes: A character is advised to "cross your fingers behind your back and say 'hallelujah'" in reference to lying to a priest. Lying is seen as the moral high ground in this story; virtually everyone lies to everyone else almost all the time. While the ex-wife shows grace to her husband’s mistress and a lot of compassion gets passed around, there’s very little else that’s positive.

Publication date: April 26, 2013