Monday, August 01, 2005

Movie Review: Wedding Crashers

By B.E. Earl

*** 1/2 (out of 5) stars.

Hi All! Slyde here. In what I hope to be a regular occurrence, today's review was written by a guest blogger, one B.E. Earl, who I have known for a dog's age, and who is pretty spot on about movies (except the fact that he loves Get Shorty, which I think sucks loads, but that's a minor point).

Anyway, on with the review, Earl....

Hey folks! Welcome to my first “guesting” gig on SlydesBlog.com. I’m going to try to pop in once in a while, just to keep Andy honest and to provide a more hi-brow element to the site. Well…maybe some fart jokes as well. This time up, I will be sharing my thoughts with you on the newest entry into the R-rated comedy genre, Wedding Crashers. If you enjoy what you see here, then whoop-de-doo for you! Just kidding, all feedback can go to Andy and if it is positive then I may return to this hallowed site in the future.

Don’t you hate it when someone you know sees a highly anticipated movie before you, and then proceeds to gush over it as if it were the best thing since sliced bread? And you know, sliced bread isn’t really that big a deal at all. I mean that kind of gush-fest is what killed Weekend at Bernie’s 2 for me, and I can’t believe that I’m the only one. Well, that was the situation I found myself in with this film. A bunch of folks I know, including some family members, had already seen it and all I heard were tales of crowded theatres filled with movie-goers blowing soda out of their noses and missing whole scenes of the movie because they had been laughing too hard from the previous scene. They even evoked the name of the big cheese of film hilarity in Something About Mary as a comparison. Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant to believe them. I have seen all the most recent projects of the Frat Pack (Vince Vaughn, the Wilson brothers, Ben Stiller, etc…), and I have been a big fan. However, none of them exactly resulted in the busting of my considerable gut.

I am pleased to report, however, that Wedding Crashers almost lived up to these highest of expectations and exceeded them in some areas. First, the setup: a couple of jaded divorce lawyers (Vaughn and Owen Wilson) have taken to the habit of crashing weddings as a way to meet eligible/horny young ladies. Jeremy Grey (Vaughn), it seems, has been taught the rules of crashing by the greatest crasher of all time, Chaz Reingold (betcha can’t guess the “secret” guest star who plays him). He and his protégé, John Beckwith (Wilson) treat Wedding Season as a six-year old would treat Christmas morning.

Right away we are treated to what must be the longest montage in film history that shows our boys hamming it up at a number of ethnic (Jewish, Irish, Italian, Asian, etc…) weddings and meeting a whole gaggle of gorgeous women whom they proceed to take advantage of. Nice way to show us some of the rules of crashing without wasting a half-hour of the film on backstory. The montage ends with a peek into John’s guilt with the duo’s somewhat adolescent behavior towards these women.

We soon reach the crux of the story, the Cleary Wedding. The grand poobah of all crash gigs. Treasury Secretary Cleary (Christopher Walken) is hosting a gigantic wedding for his daughter Christina. John and Jeremy pose as, well, John and Jeremy Ryan, brothers from New England and distant relatives of the groom. It is there that they set their sights on Secretary Cleary’s two other daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher). Yeah, I know…this has a bad episode of Three’s Company written all over it. Why use their real first names? Why profess to be related to the groom when it could be so easily figured out? Why select the father of the bride’s two daughters as their prey? To answer all three, because if they didn’t the results would have been included in the opening montage and the film would have been released direct to Internet as a short. Plot holes are as imperative to R-rated comedies as boobs and bodily fluids. Let us just accept it and move on.

Doesn’t take a film student to see where this is all going. The guilt-ridden John falls for the seemingly unavailable Claire, the slightly psychopathic Gloria falls for the unrepentant cocksman Jeremy and wackiness ensues right up to the predictably happy ending. I’m not going to bore you with the details. That’s what actually going to see the movie is for.

What I will say is that this has some of the finest comic acting seen in film for a very long time. The terrific ensemble cast includes some great supporting work/cameos by Rebecca DeMornay, Dwight Yoakum, Jane Seymour and Henry Gibson. Jane Seymour was particularly outstanding as the off-center, Owen Wilson chasing, boozehound mother of the three Cleary girls. I can’t ever remember her being funny before. The film also includes some very funny newcomers in Bradley Cooper (as Sack Lodge, Claire’s Cro-Magnon boyfriend) and Keir O’Donnell (as Todd Cleary, the Secretary’s gay angst-ridden son). Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls) is adorable and totally lovable as Claire, but it is Isla Fisher as Gloria who just about steals the movie. Her, um, energetic performance is one that should be remembered for a very long time.

I mentioned that Fisher “almost” stole the movie with her performance, well that is only because Vince Vaughn didn’t let her. What he showed a glimpse of in Old School comes to full fruition here. He is laugh-out-loud funny in what is arguably his best film role since Swingers. Well, I liked Clay Pigeons a lot as well, but I seem to be the only one. It’s not that Owen Wilson isn’t really good in this film, he is. It’s just that when a star shines as brightly as Vaughn does in this film it is hard for any of the actors working with him not to be blinded. Which is what makes Fisher’s performance so worthy of praise. Wilson does shine on his own quite a bit, especially as things go bad for him in the film, but let us not make any mistakes. This movie belongs to Vince Vaughn.

I’m giving this film ***1/2 using Andy’s five-star rating system, but if you are to judge it solely on what is trying to be then feel free to give it a perfect rating. It’s not Kurosawa or Scorsese. Hell, it’s not even Ron Howard, but you get exactly what you are paying your $9.50 for. As Jeremy says to Claire in the film “I'm not perfect, but who are we kidding, neither are you. And you want to know what? I dig it."

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