Although there are plenty of things to worry about in life, few create as much emotional stress as weddings, particularly for the bride-to-be. After all, a lot of money is being spent and questions ranging from the wedding dress ("Will it arrive?" and "Will I fit in it?") to the photographer ("Does he really know what he's doing?") to the seating at the wedding and reception ("Should it be first-come or assigned?") bombard those intimately involved.
And, at least in theory, it's a one-shot deal, with no rain dates, understudies or "re-dos" should something go wrong. Then there's the moment everyone dreads -- the "If anyone has any objections" statement -- that I've never witnessed in person, but have seen countless time in the movies.
Thus, the bride and her party have plenty to worry about without having to contemplate the issue of wedding crashers. You know, those freeloader types who just show up and pretend to be related to or know the bride or groom in some immediately unverifiable fashion so that they can have access to free food and drink. Then again, according to first-time screenwriters Steve Faber & Bob Fisher, they may be after something else altogether different.
In their appropriately titled comedy, "Wedding Crashers," Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play a duo of divorce mediators who freelance as such titular subjects and enjoy the buffet and booze. But they're really after the ladies there who they believe are ready for some action after a case of nuptial arousal.
They're obviously opportunistic cads, but they're generally good-natured ones and that's what makes them, their behavior and the film in which they appear go down that much more easily. That obviously stems from the way the screenwriters have fashioned their story and the way in which director David Dobbin ("Shanghai Knights," "Clay Pigeons") handles the material. Yet, as much or more had to be credited to the film's two stars.
Yes, just as chemistry is factor numerous uno in romantic relationships and eventual nuptials, the rapport between two such characters and the performers who embody them is key to this sort of film's success. Fortunately, they and the film are oozing with that, resulting in a fairly entertaining if decidedly adult comedy offering. It might not be perfect -- far from it, in fact -- but there are enough laughs to be had that the film comes off like a welcome if brief reprieve in a drought of otherwise bad to mediocre comedies this moviegoing season.
The problem that some viewers may have -- and one I fully understand -- is that the film doesn't bring anything to the genre that slowly but surely segues from straight comedy to romantic comedy (complete with multiple montages, revelations, falling out scenes, etc.). You can see where this one's headed long before the departure rice is thrown, and Wilson ("The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," "Shanghai Knights") and Vaughn ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "Be Cool") are really just playing the umpteenth variation of the same sort of character type they often embody.
In other words, the former is the laidback partygoer who can suddenly turn contemplative when not trying to sweep the ladies off their feet with his distinctive drawl, while the latter is his more gregarious counterpart who similarly likes to party but seems like he's constantly miffed -- in a humorous way -- that things are moving too slowly for him. The two can do this sort of material in their sleep, and yet their chemistry together -- accompanied by some truly funny dialogue -- makes their characters seen fresh and engaging enough to carry the film.
Of course, just crashing a wedding doesn't provide enough material for a feature-length pic, so the filmmakers have inserted a variation of any "meet the relatives" plot where the guys end up going back to the crashed party's seaside estate where they encounter all of the family's skeletons.
They include a profane grandmother (although no one can do this like the late great Ruth Gordon); a gay, brooding artist brother; a "Mrs. Robinson" mother -- Jane Seymour ("Somewhere in Time," the "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" TV show and movies) letting her hair down and then some; and the obligatory antagonist played by Bradley Cooper ("Wet Hot American Summer").
Unfortunately, his character is the least interesting and/or believable, thus squandering what could and should have been some quite funny moments and related material. The same goes for Christopher Walken ("The Stepford Wives," "The Rundown") who simply can't much mileage out of his fatherly Secretary of the Treasury part. I supposed De Niro milked the government spook father bit dry in those "Focker" movies, but I was expecting more from and for Walken.
More successful and playing opposite of Wilson and Vaughn are Rachel McAdams ("The Notebook," "Mean Girls") as the "normal" sibling and Isla Fisher ('I Heart Huckabees," "Scooby-Doo") as her sexually awakened sister. The two prove that have decent comedic timing and work well with their male counterparts.
While the couples' varied relationships aren't the stuff of comedic legend, they do generate enough laughs to keep the film moving, even when it sails into the seas of predictability and near sitcom style material. Any film that gets me to laugh a fair amount of time is always welcome, and I imagine enough other critics and viewers will feel the same way, thus ensuring that the tossed wedding bouquet will likely be caught by "Wedding Crashers II."