Thursday, May 2, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: The Big Wedding

Ellie and Don Griffin had been married for twenty years. They had three children, who they introduce as “Jared, Lyla, and our adopted son, Alejandro.” Ellie and Don divorced after Don had an affair with Ellie’s best friend Bebe. They’ve not seen each other for several years, but Ellie has come back to town to help prepare for Alejandro’s wedding.  Alejandro’s birthmother, Madonna, and birthsister, Nuria, are flying in from Colombia for the wedding, but is under the impression that Ellie and Don are still married.

 How is This Relevant to Adoption?
Ellie and Don adopted Alejandro internationally prior to their divorce. Alejandro appears to have maintained a relationship with Madonna and Nuria, but Ellie and Don don’t appear to have done so. The film centers around the meeting of Alejandro’s two families.

Strong Points
The Big Wedding affirms that “history does not evaporate with just the stroke of a pen and lawyer fees.” The line is spoken to express that Ellie and Don’s divorce did not erase the fact that they are all still part of a larger family, but it also applies to adoption – as evidenced by Alejandro’s sister and mother leaving Colombia to attend his wedding.

The film embraces a large sense of family. Alejandro considers Bebe, Ellie, and Madonna to be his mothers, and asks them to all participate in his ceremony. A priest counsels Ellie, “Just because you’re divorced from Don doesn’t mean you’re required to hate him.” Madonna comforts Lyla as she grieves an event in her life. Don and Ellie decide to present Alejandro a very symbolic gift, showing his importance in their family.

Madonna is glad to be with Alejandro again; she sees him with Nuria and says, “My babies are together again.”

Several characters are shown to be prejudiced against Alejandro because of his non-Caucasian ethnicity. One character asks whether he speaks English. We learn that he has graduated from Harvard.

Lyla is struggling with infertility. She is surprised to find that she is pregnant by the end of the movie. The pregnancy saves her failing marriage. Some viewers will have difficulty with this.

Don doesn’t even recognize the name “Madonna.” Alejandro is able to speak Spanish, but Don and Ellie can only manage a couple words.

Madonna does not initially like Don, and calls him a “serpent.” She is somewhat pushy, and requires Don and Ellie to confess to a priest.

Some characters make offhanded comments that seem intended to be funny, but fall flat. Lyla explains to Alejandro, “I would have enrolled [in Harvard,] but I got my parents’ DNA.” Alejandro appears comfortable with this remark. Alejandro’s fiancĂ©e expresses offhandedly, “I wish I’d been adopted,” but Alejandro doesn’t comment.

Ellie expresses that it is “weird” that Alejandro has a mother. She is asked if she’s jealous, and replies, “I never thought I’d actually meet her.” Ellie eventually tells Madonna, “I’ve always been intimidated by you. I’ve never intended to take your place, and I’ve encouraged visits and phone calls. I’m able to see where the good in him is from.”  It has the potential to be a touching moment, but the scene is played off for laughs.

Ellie and Don confess that they “didn’t have much in common and picked up another kid to avoid the issue.” Ellie and Don acknowledge, “We’ve done a lot of things wrong. Adopting Al wasn’t one of them.”

Weak Points
The film is crude.  One side theme involves Jared being a twenty-nine-year old virgin. He ultimately loses his virginity to Nuria, even after they acknowledge that they are, also, kind of brother and sister. Jared explains that they are “only a little bit” brother and sister. Alejandro later explains, “My brother is having sex with my sister.” Ellie walks in on Don preparing to perform a sexual act to his girlfriend. One character is seen nude.

Domestic violence is played for laughs.

The biggest weakness is that the film seems to imply that it is good to “lie to someone you love to protect them.” Alejandro lied to Madonna about his parents’ divorce; Madonna lied to Alejandro about his origins (he had been told that a bean farmer was his father; instead, 17-year-old Madonna had had an affair with a married bureaucrat). Madonna explains to Alejandro, “you were always gullible.” There seems to be no fall-out.
Alejandro’s sister initially decides not to sleep with Jared because she has been convinced that she “deserves to be treated with respect.” Later, she learns that the person who gave her the advice had had an affair, so she changes her mind.

One character learns that her mother is a lesbian and her father had an affair, so she declares, “I’m an orphan.”

There is a sentimental family tree in Don’s yard, but Madonna’s and Nuria’s names are not included.

The film is too crude to recommend for a young audience. People considering adoption might be offended by some of the content in the film. The film could encourage viewers to think about the impact of lies and secrecy in adoption, but this is challenging, because the film seems to endorse them. There are some touching scenes, but they might be outweighed by the problems.

Questions for Discussion After the Film
Ellie and Don don’t seem to have considered the possibility of meeting Madonna. Their initial meeting is awkward, but some relations between Madonna and Alejandro’s siblings are eventually formed. Alejandro did have some relationship with Madonna. What are your expectations about birthfamily contact? Are your expectations the same for your child and for you, or do you anticipate that your child will have more (or less) contact with their birth family than you will?

Who does Don consider as part of his family? How about Ellie? Bebe? Alejandro? Madonna?

How do you define family?

Like this review? Also check out

No comments:

Post a Comment

Open Adoption Blogs