Wedding Crashers / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()
Having seen Wedding Crashers only once, I feel I’m doing a disservice in attempting to write a review now; there are so many jokes, so much good going on here that it’s impossible to catch it all in one viewing — hell, my own goddamn laughter drowned out half the dialogue. Indeed, maybe the best piece of advice a reviewer could offer to expected attendees is to leave your coffee at home, unless you want hot brew to scald your nose hairs as it dribbles from your nostrils. Wedding Crashers is that funny, a comedic experience second to none this year; your local multiplex hasn’t offered up anything this balls-to-the-back-of-your-throat hilarious since Old School, two summers ago.
In fact, it was Old School that blazed the neglected trail for R-Rated comedy, proving that the gratuitous exposure of naked boobies and over-the-top vulgarity is once again welcome amongst the 18-34 demographic, Joe Lieberman and his moral high-ground be damned. But Wedding Crashers takes the Old School template and turns it up a notch or three, creating a comedy that is as adolescent-minded as its precursor, but also smarter, more adult-oriented, and raunchier. Indeed, Wedding Crashers is what conventional reviewers like Lisa Schwarzbaum over at Entertainment Weekly might refer to as “bawdy” or a “romp,” for lack of a printable word; a “kick-in-the-testicles outright funny,” or “I shit my pants I laughed so hard,” is a more appropriate way to describe Crashers — it is the kind of movie you want to brag about, the sort that your more insufferable friends will quote from for months, forcing unsuspecting Crasher virgins sitting in crowded theaters to listen as they loudly whisper 470 fucking times, “Hey, hey … I love this part … Oooh. Oooh. This part coming up is soooo good! Hey, listen to this next part, it’s my favorite line.” In fact, do yourself a favor and watch Wedding Crashers as soon as possible, before the machinations of pop culture grind it up and spit it back at you, before the latecomers latch onto it and claim it as their own, pumping your office cubicles full of lamely executed Vince Vaughn one-liners, before “go get yourself some strange ass,” is as tired and cliche as “Show me the money,” or “You go girl,” or, more recently, the countless takes on the Napoleon Dynamite exclamations.
Crashers follows the exploits of Jeremy Klein (Vaugh) and John Beckwith (Owen Wilson), best-friend divorce mediators that have perfected the art of wedding crashing, posing as obscure relatives to take advantage of vulnerable bridesmaid trim. However, the actual crashing shenanigans are rightly introduced and then dismissed in a single 10-minute musical montage in the beginning of the film, a device that first-time screenwriters Steve Faber and Bob Fisher recognize has little comedic endurance. Before long, J & J crash the wedding of the Secretary of Finance (Christopher Walken sans kookiness), which is where the plot settles in for its Meet the Parents comedy-of-errors style of mischief. John falls for the Secretary’s daughter, Claire (Rachel McAdams, who looks like the Joker, if the Joker were female and hot), leaving Vaughn to play his disgruntled wingman, saddled for the weekend with the neo-psychotic sister (played with divine glory by Isla Fisher), who, among other things, is ignorant of the socially acceptable time to proffer a handjob.
Simple plot regurgitation, however, wouldn’t do justice to Wedding Crashers; the story itself is no more than a series of overused comedic conventions, from the Graduate-inspired seductress mother (Jane Seymour), to the caricatured homosexual, to the foul-mouthed, senile grandmother (who calls Eleanor Roosevelt a “rug muncher”), and even the asshole boyfriend (Bradley Cooper) yearning for his comeuppance. The film is really about the interplay between Owen Wilson’s wise-assed honeyed drawl and the rapid-fire, morally valueless interjections from Vaughn, a comedy duo as energetically complimentary as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell would have been if they were allowed to use verbiage from the Urban Dictionary. These two have played scene-stealing sidekicks for so long that the combination, at first, seemed unsustainable. But Vaughn and Wilson battle in a game of one-upmanship throughout, effortlessly competing in a volley of witty crassness that doesn’t let up (though, it is Vaughn who ultimately wins out), and in which the only danger is one of comedic over-stimulation. I admit myself that at some point late in the movie I was exhausted, nearly drained of all laughter; sensing such an inevitably, I suspect, it is then that director David Dobkin (who directed Wilson in Shanghai Knights and Vaughn in the underappreciated Clay Pigeons) brought out his stunt-casting secret-weapon, which somehow sent Crashers into comedic overdrive, re-injecting enough momentum into the movie to carry it into its final, inevitable speech at the altar.
Unfortunately, Wedding Crashers may be exactly the kind of movie that portends the downward trajectory of Vaughn’s film career; such a success was he in Crashers that I suspect movie studios will be throwing money at him to take lead roles in bad romantic comedies, one-trick screenplays or Crasher sequels that will be more about exploiting the Hollywood capital he has built than his comedic talents. He may very well end up the next in line of big-money burnouts, like Will Ferrell, Jack Black, or Adam Sandler; if so, that — and an ill-advised ‘Jodie Foster in The Accused’ rape joke — may very well be Wedding Crashers’ sole imperfections.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.