Reel Critics: Save 'Big Wedding' for small screen

Director and screenwriter Justin Zackham ("The Bucket List") seems to be working on a new movie genre. In "The Big Wedding," he oversees the production of a mildly raunchy, R-rated romantic comedy that's tailored for senior citizens. Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon provide the facial wrinkles for the target audience on Medicare.

Keaton and De Niro play a divorced couple brought back together for the wedding of their adopted son. Sarandon holds court at his home as his new live-in companion. The stilted love triangle between the oldsters is meant to create a screwball comedy. But the story is too tame to get the raucous laughter needed to succeed on that level. Robin Williams as a Catholic priest adds his usual zany touch to the proceedings.

There's some snappy dialogue peppering the predictable subplots with a number of chuckles. There are some younger actors who fill the gaps with competent charm. Overall, that makes it amusing enough to take it a step above other silly De Niro films like "Meet the Parents" or "Meet the Fockers." But waiting for the video is a cost-effective way to see this lightweight effort.


'Trek' worth taking

From a primitive planet to a futuristic London, "Star Trek Into Darkness" grabs hold of our imagination and never lets go.

J.J. Abrams' re-ignited the venerable saga of the USS Enterprise in 2009 by giving us a prequel to the universally famous TV show and subsequent movies.

While giving us a sly essence of the original actors, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana and especially Simon Pegg give us a fresh take on Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Uhura and Scotty. There's humor, excitement and pathos aboard ship as well as lots of techno gadgets and effects to please even the most devout Trekkie.

And we have a magnificent villain in Benedict Cumberbatch, a smooth-faced Brit whose languid, velvety diction reminds one of a younger Alan Rickman. His cool intelligence dominates every scene he's in.

The movie opens and closes with exciting action sequences that convey the ages-old themes of friendship, loyalty, good and evil.

Abrams throws in clever little touches to the original series and movies, right up to a cameo by Leonard Nimoy as the highly logical Spock.

"Star Trek" follows boldly where other adventure epics have gone before. It delivers on the familiar we hoped to see and promises more to follow. This is a franchise that will live long and prosper.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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