New Line // 2005 // 128 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Geoffrey Miller (Retired) // March 20th, 2006
"Tattoo on the lower back -- might as well be a bullseye." -- Jeremy
In a summer filled with predictable sequels and remakes, 2005's Wedding Crashers was a rarity: a proudly R-rated, un-PC comedy with an original premise and no proven stars. It was also a huge hit in the Year of the Slump, proving that audiences can still be lured into theaters if you provide them with the right bait. With the unexpectedly successful pairing of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, a stellar supporting cast, and a sharp script, it's a gut-busting delight.
Lots of guys have hobbies, but John Beckwith (Owen Wilson, Shanghai Noon, Starsky and Hutch) and Jeremy Grey's (Vince Vaughn, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Old School) hobby is a little different from most: They like to crash weddings. They love the free food and drink, the party atmosphere, and, most of all, the women. They know that nothing makes for an easier target than a single woman intoxicated by the romance of a wedding, and they're experts at weaving stories to get them into bed. It's all fun and games until the boys get themselves in a little too deep when they attend the wedding of the daughter of Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary (the ubiquitous Christopher Walken), a high-up politician who's a Presidential hopeful. John falls for another one of Cleary's daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams, The Notebook, Red Eye), while Jeremy gets entangled with another, Gloria (Aussie redhead Isla Fisher), a "stage five clinger" who invites both of them to spend the weekend with the Cleary family. John tries to win Claire and get her obnoxious fiancé Sack out of the picture, Jeremy has his hands full dealing with the feisty Gloria, and general hilarity ensues.
With its premise clearly elucidated by the title alone, Wedding Crashers doesn't need to waste any time in getting going: Within a few minutes of starting, it kicks into a fast-paced montage of the boys crashing weddings from all over the cultural landscape. Jewish, Irish, Italian -- it doesn't matter. With a fake name, a bad accent, or just plain ol' bravado, they get their way in, usually pretending to be a distant relative; they're so shameless that they even crash Indian and Asian weddings. They mingle with the guests, playing with the kids and joking with the older family members, eyeing up potential babes all the while. When they finally get a chance to get their game on, they spin hilariously far-fetched stories about climbing Mount Everest or playing with the Yankees. They're good at what they do; at the end of the night, they always get the girl.
If Wedding Crashers was all about two guys who go to weddings to get laid, it would quickly sink into pathetic, misogynistic, monotony. Thankfully, there's a lot more to it than that. It isn't long before John starts expressing doubts about the whole crasher lifestyle: They're both in their 30s; isn't it time to grow up and settle down? Jeremy has to rope him back in to crash the Cleary's wedding, where both unwittingly end up attached to Secretary Cleary's other daughters. By giving John and Jeremy love interests, Wedding Crashers relinquishes its role as a testosterone-laced guy movie. But just when you think it's about to turn into a mushy romantic comedy, it snaps back with a cutting quip or a dirty joke.
As a couple of womanizing "hetero lifemates," Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn (both members of Hollywood's loosely organized "Frat Pack" comedy collective) are a natural comedy duo with a gift for off-the-cuff improvisational hijinks. Essentially playing themselves, their real-life friendship comes through on screen. Wilson is the slightly goofy nice guy with a Texas drawl, who hides his sensitive side behind sarcasm. Vaughn is the aging frat-boy (trying his best to hide a growing beer gut) with a motor-mouth that erupts in filthy stream-of-consciousness rants. Since Wilson is the one in love, he plays the role of the straight man for much of the movie, with Vaughn the wild man trying to shake off Gloria. They are adept at trading roles, however, and they feed off each other's energy.
The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent. Isla Fisher is a hoot as Gloria, a slightly psychotic (in a likable way) girl who's hot and horny for Jeremy. As Claire, John's object of affection, Rachel McAdams is a radiant beauty with a healthy sense of cynicism and sarcasm. Always a treat to watch in supporting roles, Christopher Walken manages to get in a few memorable lines, even though he's underutilized on the whole. Best of all is a surprise cameo by one of Wilson and Vaughn's fellow Frat Packers as Chazz, John and Jeremy's mentor in the art of crashing.
For all its manic comic charms, Wedding Crashers still leans heavily on established clichés and conventions. You can see where the story's going from a mile away. Its standard three-act progression, while comfortingly familiar, is just a tad too predictable. It's not above bringing out groan-inducing characters we've seen a few too many times before either, like the foul-mouthed granny or the dysfunctional, creepy brother. But what sustains Wedding Crashers, even when it's shamelessly derivative, is its superb execution and impeccable sense of timing. It's snappily paced -- whenever a scenario threatens to get boring it jumps to the next -- and infused with such a sense of gleeful abandon that even the jokes that fall flat will make you smile.
Besides a superlative transfer, the Wedding Crashers: Uncorked Edition DVD has plenty of extras. The extra scenes added to the Uncorked version of the movie (the original theatrical cut is also available) are neither revelatory nor naughty enough to warrant being "unrated," but they do fit right into the movie without disrupting it. Also included: two commentaries (one by Wilson and Vaughn, another by director David Dobkin), additional deleted scenes, some featurettes, a list of the "rules" of wedding crashing, and some preview clips of the soundtrack (along with a music video). There are also special DVD-ROM features playable on PCs, but the only worthwhile one is comparison of the original script to the final movie. (The DVD-ROM section requires the installation of the shady InterActual Player, which you really, really don't want on your computer. You've been warned!)
Comedies don't come more raucous, joyous, or flat-out fun than this. Yes, it's not particularly innovative; you can trace all of its influences back through other films. But who cares about innovation when the end result is so enjoyable? Wedding Crashers picks the right sources to steal from and hits every note. It might not change your life, but it's mindless escapism at its finest.
Not guilty. Make it your duty to crash this party.
Review content copyright © 2006 Geoffrey Miller; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Commentary by director David Dobkin
* Commentary by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson
* Deleted scenes
* "Event Planning" Featurette
* "The Rules" Featurette
* "The Rules of Wedding Crashing" List
* Interactive Soundtrack Promo with The Sights "Circus" Music Video
* Trailers and TV Spots
* Additional DVD-ROM Content
* Official Site