July 19, 2005

Wedding Crashers

Wedding Crashers is a messy sort of film starring two modern comedy heavyweights finally unleashed from their PG-13 expectations. We've seen this storyline many times before, but Vaughn and Wilson attack it with such low-key ferocity that stars of lesser films of this ilk are revealed for the pretenders to the throne that they are.
Unquestionably, what allows this film to stand out from the other derivative crap is its rating. Finally, a modern screwball comedy that doesn't feel the strain of pushing PG-13 limits. The picture is comfortably R; not border-line PG-13, not hard R, just R. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it gives it a somewhat raunchier spin than we've been used to lately.
Like all meeting-the-family comedies, this one features jokes with the inappropriate grandmother. Heavily mined terrain, but here the shock value comes as much from what's being said as the fact that it's an elderly woman that is saying it. Another scene involving Vince Vaughn's character and a priest will surely go down as one of the most hilarious film moments of 2005. And Christopher Walken plays against type as a father-in-law that — rather than being the expected villain of the piece — actually conveys some genuine warmth.
It's details like this that elevate Wedding Crashers, if only slightly, above what I expected. This is a name picture, and the two leads are charismatic enough to keep the picture afloat through the dry patches. Even when the movie wasn't doing anything new, their characters were enjoyable enough to sustain my interest — much like the easy pleasure of crashing in front of the tube to distant repeats of a well-oiled sitcom. Vaughn and Wilson only worked together once before, in last year's surprisingly enjoyable Starsky & Hutch. But they star with the same people enough that their on-screen chemistry is almost expected as a matter of course. They bounce of each other with ease, two different styles of understated comedy coping in differing and fascinating ways with an onslaught of slowly escalating insanity.
Their command over the picture is tested late in the game when a frequent co-star of both Wilson and Vaughn makes a cameo appearance. The fact that the marketing team didn't blaze his name across every trailer is a minor miracle, and I will not ruin the surprise here. Suffice to say that it is the modern equivalent of John Belushi blasting in on the proceedings, and it is a sign of the wonderful dynamic forged between the two stars that they are never once in danger of losing command of the screen.
This film will never go down in history as a classic about great and important things. Yet it is fun, immature, wild, and quite probably inspired. The perfect summer movie, it is fun and harmless; a happy night at the movies, without all the sharp edges sanded smooth. ()


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