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July 21, 2005

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Wedding Crashers (R)
by Amy Diaz

Two boobs seek same in the uneven buddy comedy Wedding Crashers.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed. So much hay has been made over the fact that Wedding Crashers is rated R and supposedly chock full of naughty comedy that I was actually looking forward to a volley of boob and poop jokes. Who doesn’t like a good volley of boob and poop jokes especially when they adorn the framework of a well-made comedy and spring from the mouths of two generally likeable actors such as Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson? I bought a ticket for hoping I was on my way to Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, a movie that pulled no punches in the crudeness department but was subversively smart and shockingly funny.

Well, that’ll teach me what happens to the optimistic.

The movie starts out promisingly enough — John (Wilson) and Jeremy (Vaughn) are two single men who have honed a particular hustle for getting the ladies: the wedding reception pick-up. Weddings — in part because of all the talk of love, in part because of the elaborate but horrible bridesmaid get-ups, the copious amounts of booze and the table full of gifts — get girls in a romantic mood, so the boys have discovered. Women at weddings need only a bit of urging to consider a man suitable for the hook-up and seem to have very little interest in spending time with the man beyond that evening — thus making it the perfect situation for our aging frat boys. Each year, the month of June is a whirl of easy pickings for them and John and Jeremy run their game with gusto. Naturally, however, their advancing age gets John, the marginally more mature of the two, in a philosophical mode. When the boys attend the big wedding of the daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury (Christopher Walken), John is primed to fall in love himself and does so at first glance with one of the secretary’s other daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams). He chases her using the standard tricks (an aaaahhh-inducing dance with the flower girl) but isn’t immediately deterred when he finds out that she has a boyfriend. He’s so determined to spend more time with her that he even sells out Jeremy. Jeremy has a little beach nookie with the third daughter, Gloria (Ilsa Fisher). Though the sex is great, he quickly begins to regret it as Gloria starts to cling. Eager to leave, Jeremy is horrified when, in an attempt to get closer to Claire, John accepts Gloria’s invitation for the two men to come to the family’s home for the weekend.

Once on the Secretary’s lush Maryland estate, the boys must deal with the potty-mouthed grandmother, the secretary’s horny wife, the advances of the gay artistic son and the assorted problems of their two women (Claire’s problem — the boyfriend; Gloria’s problem — insanity).

Each character in Wedding Crashers, with the exception of Wilson, Vaughn and McAdams, is essentially a one-person skit. The grandmother (Ellen Albertini Dow) spouts a completely non sequitor bit about her hatred for Eleanor Roosevelt. The mother (Jane Seymour) plays a lusty, one-dimensional Mrs. Robinson rip-off. The son looks like a caricature of a twisted art student (indeed, his body itself seems twisted). Claire’s boyfriend (Bradley Cooper) is some weird cross of WASP-y arrogance and ’roid rage. Their scenes are less like parts of a whole than they are bits — frequently pieces of dialogue in Wedding Crashers seem more like a screen test for the movie than the movie itself.

Which is not to say that some of these bits aren’t funny. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an actor’s suggestion to go sailing come out funnier than when Walken said it. (Of course, his oddly toned halting delivery could make, as Jay Mohr demonstrated in one of his stand-up routines, the children’s book Goodnight Moon sound both creepily menacing and hilarious.) Vaughn’s mile-a-minute line readings paired with Wilson’s surfer cool create a solid rhythm — vacuum cleaner salesman vs. dude. Ilsa Fisher steals most of her scenes, blending the kind of over-the-top sex we expect in this sort of movie with a willingness to stray comically far from reason. It’s only McAdams, whose duties as a nice girl require her to do nothing but be nice, who is sort of a limp dishrag of a character.

The problem is not in any one character but in the way these characters were put together — like parts of Frankenstein’s monster rather than as a seamless creation. Nothing feels cohesive, nothing flows. When Will Ferrell shows up in a late-in-the-movie cameo, the effect is jarring, as though he’s been brought in to distract audiences from the quickly disintegrating movie they’re watching. 

Wedding Crashers wasted a perfect opportunity to be crude, profane and raunchy (but in a good way!) and ends up only feeling sort of weak. And, sorry guys, ultimately it ultimately doesn’t even show off all that many boobs — except, of course, creative forces working behind the scenes.