Wedding Crashers

July, 2005, Comedy

Directed by:David Dobkin

Starring:Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, With Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher , Bradley Cooper, Keir O'Donnell, Ron Canada, and Jane Seymour

Despite all the gossip column buzz, this latest offering from two  members of Hollywood’s peripatetic comedic elite, (Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, et. al) lacks the sustained zaniness required to place it in the “must see” category of such films as There’s Something About Mary or Animal House. Working from a script by newcomers Steve Faber & Bob Fisher, director David Dobkin, (Shanghi Knights) have fashioned an intermittently funny romantic comedy about a pair of aging skirt-chasers who crash weddings to take advantage of nubile young women who lose their better judgment in the feel-good atmosphere of the proceedings. Given this slim premise, Crashers relies heavily on the appeal of its protagonists; Owen Wilson responds perfectly, while Vince Vaughn, (burdened with the script’s lugubrious subplot and a series of the actor’s trademark ramblings) labors in a less appealing and humorous role.

Wilson and Vaughn play John Beckwith & Jeremy Grey, a pair of matrimonial arbitrators who finally bluff their way into a wedding that promises more than just another pair of one-night stands. The unknowing targets are Clare, (Rachael McAdams) and Gloria, (Isla Fisher) the two younger sisters of bride Christina Cleary, whose father, (Christopher Walken) happens to be Secretary of the Treasury and as such, suspicious of a pair of supposed distant relatives who make their living as venture capitalists. A long weekend with various members of the wedding party ensues, with sufficient opportunities, (touch football, spiked drinks, midnight trysts, bike rides to the beach etc.) to permit Wilson to seriously woo the suspicious Clare while Vaughn’s libido gets repeatedly serviced by the sexually rapacious Gloria. Throw in the requisite amount of ribald commentary, a half-dozen pairs of surgically enhanced mammaries and sufficient usage of the expletive in English that rhymes with the meaning of the French word canard and you have the makings of any adolescent male’s cinematic dreams. 

Vaughn’s shtick of near-psychotic free association is getting over-exposed; having been on display of late in films like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Anchorman,  the agreeably shaggy doofus of Dodgeball needs to find scripts that allow him to react to characters even loopier than he is. Wilson’s likeable love-struck sidekick is more fun to watch and far more sympathetic than his lumbering sybaritic buddy. Rachael McAdams makes Clare’s tart tongue and observant eye considerably more interesting than sister Gloria’s insatiable sexuality, however much the latter might appeal to the testosterone quotient of the film’s target audience. Walken turns in another of his loopy screen personas, deftly turning a caricature into a sensitive and warm-hearted father who labors to keep his family functional in spite of an aging mother whose vocabulary would embarrass any red-blooded Marine sergeant and a wife, (the stunning Jane Seymour) who mixes Scotch and adultery with predictably ruinous results.

Dobkin, who directed Wilson in the sequel to one of the best Western spoofs ever, (Shanghai Noon) again displays a tendency towards heavy-handedness, worried perhaps that the attention span of his audience may not be able to distinguish wit from subtly. He’s not primarily shooting for the latter of course; but a bit of it would have been welcome, especially since it’s an ingredient at which Wilson excels when given the chance. 

Crashers isn’t without its occasional charms; Wilson’s always amusing to watch, some of the dialogue has the bracing effrontery of a good Bronx cheer and the soundtrack of rock ‘n roll oldies which accompanies various wedding reception montages is sure to bring back fond memories for most viewers. But the film’s best bits are interspersed between dry spells which serve to pad out the movie’s 119 minutes running time while derailing its full-tilt boogie intentions.

Bawdy works best when it’s done non-stop; in Wedding Crashers, momentum is a sometime thing, making for two hours of only alternating-current humor. 

The result? Close, but in the end, no cigar.             

Jake's Takes comments powered by Disqus