CRASH THIS PARTY
It is known that David Dobkin's new comedy "Wedding Crashers" went out of its way to earn an R-rating certificate, bucking the trend of recent comedies and horrors that depend on the high school audience for revenue (like Fantastic Four which banks on that plus the financial contributions of it's pimp, Burger King) by providing unnecessary nudity and a few f-bombs not seen in the more mild PG-13 flicks.
Being that Hollywood is currently in a deep revenue slump such a strategy is risky because as we all know the population parameter of eligible moviegoers is smaller. Not that fewer people will see "Wedding Crashers" because when word gets out that Will Ferrell makes an appearance every 16-year-old in the country will have snuck in by the second week.
"Wedding Crashers" tells the story of two best friends, John and Jeremy (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn) who crash weddings to pick up vulnerable chicks, sleep with them only to move on to another when the next ceremony is announced.
And boy do these guys take their jobs seriously. They go by a code that was established by Chaz, the "pioneer" of wedding crashing (there are some 200 memorized rules such as "never leave a fellow crasher behind") and take elaborate steps to come up with backgrounds that will hook any emotional woman, such as fake purple hearts and an endless supply of artificial tears - not to mention they always make sure to dance with the flower girl and old grandmas in plain view of their targets.
The opening montage showing John and Jeremy at every ethic wedding from Hebrew to Hindu to the song "Shout" sets us up for the big challenge: Crashing the ritzy wedding of the daughter of Treasury Secretary Cleary (Christopher Walken) with such distinguished guests like Senator John McCain and Democratic strategist James Carville playing themselves in attendance.
While waiting for the nuptial to commence, Jeremy hooks up with the youngest Cleary daughter, Gloria (Isla Fisher) who, like the redhead from the "American Pie" films, may not be all that she appears to be on the surface. John instantly falls for Gloria's sister, Claire (Rachel McAdams), and somehow they all end up back at the family country home where John will try to win Claire's heart, and Jeremy will be humorously assaulted by several different people while doing several different things. Some of it works (the "touch" football game and the portrait given to him), some of it doesn't (the horny adulterous wife of the secretary and getting serviced at the dinner table).
Here the film makes two very grave mistakes, keeping it from being this year's powerhouse comedy to beat. First it fails to take advantage of the brilliant Christopher Walken who had better things to say in "Envy," but here looks tired and in need of a paycheck.
The second problem is the villain of the film, the implausible boyfriend of Claire, Sack (Bradley Cooper), satisfying the longstanding movie cliché that the sweet, kind woman always dates the obnoxious and evil man until the hero wins her heart by the end of the two and a half hours he has allotted to him.
But I guess this is the type of movie that requires the antagonist to be so undesirable when you consider the alternative: a sleazebag whose real name is unknown to you because he crashes weddings to pick up chicks. Oh, but this time he has finally found the right girl and should be forgiven. No points for guessing that Claire opens her heart to him.
That route is almost expected, but not the treatment Christopher Walken gets as the fatherly figure who is more words of wisdom than words of over-the-top ridiculous humor.
But it's hard for me to completely dismiss anything with Vince Vaughn in it as he carries the show with his serious passion for a ridiculous ploy that never gets John and Jeremy arrested when it should by the time they're helping the bride cut the wedding cake.
It's a funny movie and first time screenwriters Steve Faber and Bob Fisher allow Vaughn to fit right at home with his fast-talking mantras and eccentric philosophies that he's taken with him from "Swingers" and "Old School" and "Dodgeball."
I respect films that aren't afraid to be R-rated but this one is almost wasted being on the lighter end of the scale with all of the nudity in short shots given to us at the beginning. Cut that out with some of the harsh f-words and it would have made a fine PG-13 film, unlike many in the horror genre that suffer when watered down.
The ending of "Wedding Crashers" indicates it finishes at the right time with no more gas left in the engine. It has plenty of ambition and could have gone a lot farther but there are enough laughs for me to recommend it to moviegoers looking for a good comedy who weren't satisfied by the mediocre comedies of the year like "Hitch" and "Fever Pitch."