2005Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson
h, is Wedding Crashers a funny movie. It’s the kind of film that, if you’re a certain kind of (usually American) male, you insist on dragging your buddies to for a weekend matinee, where you will spend the better part of two hours busting a gut. It’s also the kind of film that, having so successfully inspired lunatic laughter, will also wrench forth feelings of slight shame and embarrassment for your temporary reversion to adolescence. So be it—the guilt is worth it, because the humor comes fast and furious.
The past few years have seen a spate of frat boy-ish comic romps that simultaneously celebrate and criticize the commitment-phobic thirtysomething man, usually amidst jokes about bodily functions and gratuitous tit shots. Wedding Crashers fits firmly into that subgenre, joining such honored predecessors as Old School, Anchorman, and Dodgeball. Indeed, the genre even rotates among the same few actors, most especially Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, the Wilson brothers (Luke and Owen), and Will Ferrell. To varying degrees, all these movies feature male leads who are essentially sweet, overgrown teenagers, guys who might actually discover their own hidden depths if they can rein in their perpetually surging libidos. Of these movies, Wedding Crashers runs with the theme most explicitly, at times veering dangerously close to the genre’s death knell, an excess of saccharine emotional goo. But it’s saved from overwrought sentimentality by a consistently funny script and two of the more insanely giddy comic performances in recent memory, the work turned in by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (and that’s not even counting Ferrell’s creepily hilarious cameo near the end of the film, a contribution that gives new meaning to the term “over the top”).
”What, you don't like the pants? I think they make me look festive.”
Wilson and Vaughn star respectively as John and Jeremy, a couple of cynical Washington, D.C. divorce mediators who have elevated the concept of wedding crashing to a high art. They burst in on weddings, lie their asses off (“we’re Uncle Ned’s children. You know Uncle Ned, right?”), sample the smorgasbord, get drunk, shed a few appropriately sympathetic tears, and bed down the hottest single women they can find, on the theory that females are at their most, uh, physically available when their minds are clouded by thoughts of marriage and commitment. It’s a shallow, sleazy, manipulative lifestyle, but John and Jeremy are presented as so good-natured and basically harmless that the audience is seduced almost as easily as the bridesmaids are. These are a couple of sweetly oversexed fellows, the film implicitly argues, so just go with the flow.
Until, that is, True Love strikes. The two lads shoot for the moon, crashing the wedding of Treasury Secretary Cleary’s daughter, where they both become involved with two of the bride’s sisters, John falling head-over-heels for the adorable Claire (Rachel McAdams), while Jeremy to his horror realizes that in Gloria Cleary he’s seduced a “Stage Five Clinger.” Jeremy’s predicament is among the funniest running jokes in the film, as Gloria takes it upon herself to satisfy her new man’s sexual appetites at the most inappropriate times, most notably a family dinner with her father (Christopher Walken, enjoyably odd as usual) sitting across the table, and a late-night seduction that involves tying Jeremy’s arms and legs to the bedposts and duct-taping his mouth while he sleeps.
In the meantime, John, already guilt-ridden at his shallow lifestyle, realizes he’s beginning to develop real feelings for Claire, an intelligent beauty almost-engaged to a hypercompetitive Type A cretin who loves nothing more than delivering bone-crushing tackles during supposedly harmless games of touch football. Moreover, John is increasingly terrified that unless he settles down with a nice girl soon, he will start heading into his late thirties more trapped by his life than in charge of it. “I’m still young,” he informs Claire, as if hoping for affirmation. “You’re not that young,” comes the sympathetic but jolting response.
"Fire in the hole!"
Will John and Jeremy eventually grow up and begin to value the power of love over sex? Will Claire discover their lies and threaten to never speak to John again? Will John go into a severe depression that only ends with a dramatic declaration of his feelings for his beloved? Will Cretin Boyfriend get his ultimate comeuppance while Our Heroes emerge triumphant? Discerning audiences, by which I mean those who haven’t undergone mass lobotomies, should be able to figure these questions out before they even walk into the theater. But plot revelation is not why you shell out your hard-earned money to see a movie like Wedding Crashers. You go so you can laugh so hard you’ll feel in danger harming a few internal organs, and for the most part, Wedding Crashers delivers exactly as promised.
A word, if I may, on Vince Vaughn. As funny as Dodgeball occasionally was, after watching Wedding Crashers I realized the biggest mistake that movie made was wasting Vaughn in the lead role. He’s not the straight man to the comic insanity around him– he is the comic insanity. His performance in Wedding Crashers is so brilliantly manic, and his lines and delivery so inspired, that from this point on it would be a true tragedy to see him cast in a comedy in any role other than that of the lovably obnoxious best friend, making up with fevered energy what he may lack with his shaky grasp on personal ethics. He did it in Swingers, he did it in Old School, and he certainly does it in this movie. There are a lot of good reasons to see Wedding Crashers, but if you need only one, it’s Double Down Trent himself. See it, and marvel at the comic mania Vaughn brings to the screen.
By: Jay Millikan
Published on: 2005-07-25