I am going to make some harsh comments about this
film so I want to establish this point upfront. I liked the movie.
It was a refreshingly raunchy comedy in a movie year that has sorely
lacked both humor and raunch, and it has a lot of heart as well. The by-play between Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson alone is enough to
elevate Wedding Crashers to a level near the summit of the
sentimental raunchy film genre. Vaughn and Wilson make a good team,
and play off each other well because they possess contrasting
strengths. Vaughn, the improv king, is typically blustery as the
hyperkinetic and callous motormouth, and Wilson is typically cuddly
- but subtly subversive - as the laid-back half of the team.
Overall, I think Wedding Crashers was as good as the American Pie
sequels, although a cut below the original Pie.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, let me
make the real point. Wedding Crashers is merely a good comedy which should
have been a great one. It plants several brilliant seeds that are
left unharvested, and it gives too much screen time to things that just
Let's talk first about unharvested seeds.
1. There is an opening montage which demonstrates the
wedding crashers doing what they do - going to weddings to
get laid by capitalizing on the emotional vulnerability of the women in
attendance. The montage contains some stuff which must have been hilarious.
Unfortunately, that hilarity seems to have taken place offscreen.
The two boys show up at an Indian Wedding and introduce themselves
as something like Radu Singh and Tommy Vindaloo. A great idea is
thus planted. How could these Indian lads possibly explain why they
look like Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn? We don't know. The script
shows that offscreen. They pull off the same thing by pretending to
be members of various other unlikely ethnic groups as well, but
again the joke stops with their names.
2. Christopher Walken was cast as the father of the
two girls that Vaughn and Wilson eventually fall for. That's a seed
for a funny idea, I suppose. Walken can be funny reading a menu. But
not here. He plays a nice guy, thoughtful, loving, intelligent, unthreatening,
humorless. I'm not complaining that he played the part poorly, mind
you, because Walken is a complete professional and he did what he
was asked to do. But if you're going to hire Walken, why not let him
be Walken, fer Chrissakes? This part could have been played just as
well by any competent sixty year old guy.
3. Jane Seymour has a great pseudo-seduction scene
with Owen Wilson. She drops in on him while he's changing, removes
her top, and says something like, "I just had my tits done. How do
you like them?" Then she insists that Wilson feel them. Wilson is
reluctant, since he's falling in love with her daughter, but he
isn't offered the "no" option, so he feels them, and is sincerely
impressed. "Wow, how do they get them so realistic?" Seymour is not
pleased with his reaction, so she slaps his face and leaves. That
happens early in the film, so you would expect it to be a seed, and
that there would be some additional tension between these two
characters during the time Seymour's daughter (Rachel McAdams) moves
toward dumping her wealthy and powerful fiancé to take up with
Wilson. Nothing. For the rest of the film's running time, the
encounter between Seymour and Wilson is basically ignored as if it
had never happened.
4. Will Ferrell is brought in to do his obligatory
frat pack cameo. It seems that the comedy troupe of Vaughn, the Wilsons, Ferrell,
and Ben Stiller can always be expected to pair up in the leads and milk a
cameo from one or more of the others. Ferrell is obviously a pretty
damned funny guy, so that was another funny seed, but it again went
unharvested as Ferrell played his schtick too big, too hammy, and
just too desperate for laughs. (How can a guy so successful, so
brilliant, and so respected by his peers be so desperate so often?)
5. Vince Vaughn gets a hand job under the table
during a dinner with the Secretary of the Treasury. That should
plant the seed for some laughs, right? The guffaws never arrived.
Nobody else at the table saw or suspected. No punchline.
And then there were the unfunny characters who hogged
1. The official mandatory Greg Marmalard frat comedy
guy - that is to say, the obnoxious fiancé who needs to be
eliminated before our hero can get the girl - was sourly,
psychotically, violently unfunny, as if the film had been suddenly
interrupted by Travis Bickle. That guy got far too much screen time.
2. The foul-mouthed old granny is a comedy character
which has become a cliché and needs to be given a time out - unless
she has something genuinely funny to say, which this film's granny
did not. She was just the usual old coot who seems sweet until she
demonstrates an unexpected potty mouth.
3. The two sisters who become the boys' girlfriends
have a brother. He is the family embarrassment. As with the Will
Ferrell character and the psychotic fiancé, this character is too
exaggerated in too many totally unfunny ways. He seems to be
auditioning for the role of Gay Igor in a John Waters remake of
If one were to eliminate and/or rescramble some of
those elements, this film would be a comedy classic. Even in its
current form, for all the disappointments and unfulfilled promise,
it's just terrific when Vaughn and Wilson are doing their thing!