More noise than signal

The Wedding Crashers

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

Another film that’s been given a frosty critical reception, Stateside especially, although precisely why is unclear to me. Perhaps it’s a marketing thing, apparently the promo packs on the wrong side of the pond would have us think this to be a balls out, tits out, foulmouthed romp of a flick. Certainly it isn’t, as the fifteen rating the BBFC have bestowed upon it would imply, but it certainly has all the comic goodness you’d expect from a Wilson / Vaughn pairing.

The duo take the roles of John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, marriage counselors who love their profession. Love it so much, in fact that their hobby is the delicate art of wedding crashing. The ultimate and somewhat seedy goal of this enterprise being to use the emotional festivities to secure a night of meaningless sex. Having seen the lads at work, they clearly have their gameplan down but will it be good enough for the superbowl of weddings – Treasury Secretary Cleary (Christopher Walken)’s eldest daughter’s do. The fellas targets, contrivedly enough, happen to the remaining unhitched Cleary Girls, John targeting Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Jeremy’s submarine is sunk by Gloria (Isla Fisher, doomed no matter what to be remembered as ‘the bird off Home and Away‘). Things take something of a twist when John, already twigging on to the fact that a life spent in the pursuit of meaningless trysts is ultimately meaningless, discovers he’s falling harder for Claire than he’d intended. The complications for Jeremy come in the form of Gloria having something of the psycho hose beast about her.

So, while Jeremy’s desperately pushing for an immediate withdrawal John wants more time to win Claire away from her boorish boyfriend, so an offer to return to the Cleary family residence in eagerly seized upon. By John at least. And, well, do you need to know much more of the plot than this? Do you want me to mention the foulmouthed Grandma Cleary (Ellen Albertini Dow), or the girls lecherous mother Kathleen (Jane Seymour)? The inevitable rumbling of their little scheme and the resultant fallout? The utter lack of surprise resultant from it all working out in the end? Do you? Well, I just did then.

Talented as Wilson is, and we’re oft found singing his praises round theOneliner Towers, it’s Vaughn who gets to shine here. After a tremendous albeit slightly understated showing in the amusing Dodgeball, he now gets a high profile opportunity to show the utter genius that issues forth from his mouth when let off the leash a little. While he’s rarely bad in any film, even tripe like Blackball, The Wedding Crashers gives a virtuoso performance of the vocal delivery talents that brought him to the dance in the first place.

Wilson drops into slightly unfamiliar territory as what at times becomes a straight romantic lead of the sort normally reserved for his brother Luke. He’s never less than competent in this role, and indeed his dramatic turns are often woefully underrated – Behind Enemy Lines might have hit every branch on the fall from the generic tree but you can’t fault Owen for it. He’s perhaps slightly hampered in creating genuine empathy for his character on the basis that despite being the ‘serious’ one, something ridiculous is bound to be showing up in the next few minutes. Still, this isn’t exactly a Greek tragedy here and if you were really wanting serious dramatic character acting then you’re in the wrong screen, buddy.

There’s not really a weak link amongst the cast, even Isla Fischer’s great for Gawd’s sake. Rachel McAdams may perhaps have the most perfunctory role, but makes Claire seem rather more complex than the cookie cutter character you might be forgiven for expecting. As is seemingly to be expected in this type of affair, Will Farrell pops up for a cameo in the final reels as the original Wedding Crasher and almost walks off with the film. Off the top of my head, I can’t actually recall a Farrell appearance that isn’t an immediate contender for funniest thing ever and this one’s no exception.

So, what’s not to like? Well, we’re deprived of the expected, nay, contractually obliged Bizarre Walken Monologue, indeed while it’s always a pleasure to listen to the man speak there’s simply not enough screen time given over to him for his role to feel anything other than functional. It could have been anyone in this part which isn’t a fault with the man himself, just the role he plays. The humour’s a little odd – close to the bone in places, but not in the same moronic, gross-out garbage vein that reprehensible drivel like American Pie: The Wedding spews forth. No, the bad taste elements here owe more to the higher concept offensiveness perfected by The Producers than anything else, the sort of laughs that make you feel slightly dirty for liking it. This is why I and so many others liked The Wedding Crashers, but if you’re cut from a different cloth it might be precisely the reason you hate it.

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