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
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
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.