Vince Vaughn commits rampant acts of comic zeal while the script around him crumbles in a movie that loses its thrust like a cat caught in traffic. Jeremy Grey (Vaughn) and John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) are a couple of enduring bachelors who live for the spring and summer wedding season to hone their cocksmen skills with unsuspecting bridesmaids. The movie works best when its comic set pieces turn embarrassingly blue amidst social surroundings like in churches or at a prominent family’s dinner table.
Too bad first time screenwriters Steve Faber and Bob Fisher lose track of worthy secondary characters while extending extraneous narrative threads toward anticlimaxes. Will Ferrell makes an irritating appearance as a sex hound named Chaz Reinhold who picks up women at funerals during the movie’s least inspired subplot addition.
The film’s director David Dobkin has a working history with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson from his first two movies Clay Pigeons (with Vaughn) and Shanghai Nights (starring Wilson). As such, Wedding Crashers benefits from a jovial atmosphere of apparent comraderie that allows for some truly funny moments to transpire between the ever-irreverent Vaughn, as the joke teller, and Wilson, as the obligatory straight man.
But script problems manifest quickly in the beginning of the movie when the audience is subjected to a wedding crashing montage, punctuated by plenty of gratuitous bare breasts, that promises character-contextualized nudity later in the movie that never arrives. Fast-forward montages have become the dominion of novice screenwriters attempting to add momentum where well-timed comic set pieces would go farther toward garnering laughs.
Mel Brooks never added quick-cut montages to comic masterpieces like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein because he was confident in his material. But here the filmmakers present a condensed music video commercial that acts as a movie within the movie. Unfortunately, Wedding Crashers doesn’t even live up to its montage.
After its spate of fast-forward exposition the story officially kicks in with our perverse heroes passing themselves off as venture capitalist sons of a mysterious Uncle Ned at a wedding connected to political heavyweight Secretary Cleary (Christopher Walken). The boys continuously recite numbered rules from a memorized wedding crasher’s handbook as John catches the forbidden love bug for the secretary’s daughter Claire (Rachel Adams—The Notebook).
Meanwhile, Jeremy is well on his way to deflowering the secretary’s demented daughter Gloria (well played by scene-stealer Isla Fisher—I Heart Huckabees). Gloria proudly announces to Jeremy that he’s seized her virginity before proclaiming her undying love.
Jeremy attempts to bolt from the glomming mistress but gets waylaid by John’s impetuous decision to pursue Claire in spite of her ever-present obnoxious boyfriend Sack (Bradley Cooper—Changing Lanes). John ill advisedly accepts an invitation from Gloria for the boys to spend a weekend at her father’s palatial estate in the Hamptons and the movie finally seems situated to carouse in the pressure cooker of comedy that’s been promised.
But the movie takes divergent paths after the group arrive at the Cleary mansion. John succumbs to sentimental romance with Claire while Vince Vaughn’s Jeremy is left to struggle with homosexual overtures from the family’s eccentric son Todd (Keir O’Donnell) when he’s not being physically attacked by Sack or publicly groped by Gloria. John does endure minor sexual abuse from Secretary Cleary’s disloyal wife Kathleen (Jane Seymour) who demands tactile admiration of her recent boob job before turning on her heel in disgust.
The screenwriters are smart enough to create a climate of clashing outlandish characters but too inexperienced to know how to write scenes to coerce their inherent comic potential to a boil. Marx Brothers movies sent audiences into giggling fits by taking the same type of culture clash situations and pitting characters directly against one another in layered activity.
In the Cleary house there’s only ever one or two things going on at any given time. Once the boys are prematurely evicted from the estate, the movie spirals through multiple false endings that pale with each progression. Wedding Crashers isn’t such an awful comedy as long as you leave after the first 70 minutes. MTW