Directed by David Dobkin
Comedy this good shouldn’t be so rare. Based on a brilliant comedic screenplay by Steve Faber and Bob Fisher, and directed by David Dobkin, Wedding Crashers keeps the laughs coming for the two-hour duration – and that’s really rare these days. This film reinforced my belief that comedy is a writers’ medium – it couldn’t have succeeded without the clever script. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson make excellent party-boy buddies as Jeremy and John, the titular crashers of weddings. But no collection of acting talent could have saved the day if the script had been typical of comedy as it is routinely rendered in 2005.
After establishing our party-animal characters with a montage of wedding scenes from a variety of cultures, the story zeros in on the Cleary family after Jeremy and John insert themselves into a family wedding. John, tiring of the party-crashing routine, is receptive to the charm and beauty of a Cleary daughter, Claire (Rachel McAdams, who first got my attention toughest tart in the lunchroom in 2004’s Mean Girls). Jeremy hooks up with Gloria, the psychotic youngest daughter of Treasury Secretary William Cleary (Christopher Walken). So John’s ready to go to the family’s mansion on the bay for the weekend, while Jeremy’s desperate to escape – “I’ve got a stage-five clinger, you know what that means… a virgin!” There’s a hilarious dinner table scene – one of the best in the movie – where the full entourage of this eccentric family, Claire being the only normal one, has at one another while Gloria plays a little under-the-table polo with a near-apoplectic Jeremy.
Before Wedding Crashers, I hadn’t heard of Isla Fisher, who plays Gloria. The more I think about it, the more apparent it is that the Gloria character is key to many of the best scenes in the film. Jeremy is a fast-talking cad who goes to weddings with the prime objective of meeting available women when they’re most emotionally receptive… but he’s not above stuffing himself with free food. He meets his match in Gloria – a red-headed, psycho-nympho-babe who can’t take the hint that he’s not looking for a serious relationship. Isla Fisher earned a place on my radar with her intense, physical, wildly-comic performance that went eyeball-to-eyeball with one of the great comics of our time, Vince Vaughn.
One of my few complaints concerns the character of Claire’s boyfriend – way, way overdone as rude, inconsiderate, abusive… so obviously the wrong guy for Claire that it seemed implausible that she would stay with him through most of the film. It’s too easy to tell that the filmmakers are setting us up for Claire and John getting together at the end – if they had dialed-down the bad-boyfriend character a couple of notches, the romantic angle of the story would have had a more plausible flow. The ending in general was also a little too pat, too Hollywood. Not that it really made that much difference -- the strength of the film is the collection of its hugely funny scenes. Wedding Crashers stacks one well-written, well-executed comic scene after another.
I won’t insult the film by classifying it as a romantic comedy – at least in terms of the current state of that genre. All of the elements of the genre are there, nominally – wedding scenes, the bad boy friend blocking our hero from getting close to his true love. But Wedding Crashers is more Animal House than Hitch… more old-school, R-rated, raunch-fest than conventional romantic comedy.
The filmmakers made a wise decision to just go ahead and let the film get an “R” rating – due, primarily to the raunchy, explicit language – instead to trying to tone it down just enough to get a PG-13. The movie is definitely not appropriate for children – but they probably wouldn’t respond the adult-situational humor anyway.
Since the movie succeeds as a well-written comedy – funny actors doing funny things -- it doesn’t depend on gorgeous cinematography or artistic production design. Set in Washington, D.C. -- my hometown – they kept showing the obvious exterior shots of the Washington Monument, the Capitol, Memorial Bridge, etc – but they could have done better if they had scouted out some other less obvious but highly photogenic locations in the D.C area. Since it’s not a highly visual movie, if you catch it on DVD rather than 35mm, it won’t lose too much. But then you’ll have to wait – this film is sure to spur plenty of good conversation and if you don’t see it soon, you’ll miss out on some of that.
By the way, if you’re as big a Vince Vaughn fan as I am, you should check out 2001’s Made ( IMDB link -- click here for more info). He stars with Jon Favreau (who also directed and wrote the script) as a low-level, wanna-be gangster who can’t seem to get anything right… or even keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble. Do you see the potential? It didn’t do much box office since Vaughn was virtually unknown at the time, but I think it may be his best work so far.
Images are copyright New Line Cinema.
For more information about this film including detailed cast and crew credits, check out The Internet Movie Database by clicking here.