Wedding Crashers

Sometimes a movie comedy just clicks. Welcome to one of those times. Wedding Crashers fires off big, fat, raucous laughs as if it had an endless supply. It doesn't. The film limps a bit in the final stretch like a wedding guest who knows how to party but doesn't know when to go home. A small price to pay for so much hot, rowdy fun.

At first glance, the plot screams crass sitcom: Owen Wilson's John Beckwith and Vince Vaughn's Jeremy Grey are divorce mediators out of Washington, D.C., who crash weddings to scam babes and bridesmaids. The champagne, the cake, the dancing are definite sex traps. All John and Jeremy need to do is pounce. Wilson and Vaughn could play this stuff in their sleep. (Hell, they have — did you see Starsky and Hutch?) But the guys have their mojos working this time. The script, by newbies Steve Faber and Bob Fisher, is a solid blueprint. And director David Dobkin, who did Shanghai Knights with Wilson and Clay Pigeons with Vaughn, allows the boys to improv until the dialogue purrs. These dudes have a rule: They don't crash weddings like mingy cowards. They barge in, sit at the bridal table (passing as Uncle Ned's kids or Aunt Liz's brood), secure that no one will call their bluff in the face of their brash exuberance. Wilson's stoner drawl and Vaughn's snappy patter blend perfectly. They're a comedy dream team.

It also helps that Wedding Crashers is unapologetically R-rated — bawdy as hell and unafraid of naked carnality. In one inspired quick-speed montage, John and Jeremy fall into bed one by one with wedding hotties — Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Irish, Hindu — in a trampoline dance of bare butts and bouncing breasts that reminds us what trippy turn-ons movies can be. That is, when they don't sell their pervy souls for a more commercial PG-13 rating. It's that anything-goes sass that crashes Crashers into the level of comic nirvana.

Love, of course, intervenes. John is besotted at first sight by a bridesmaid named Claire. Who wouldn't be? As played by Rachel McAdams — the toxic cookie of Mean Girls and the sweetie of The Notebook, McAdams is a showstopping beauty with the talent to bend a laugh line to do her will. She has the same effect on John. There's a catch: Claire is engaged. She's also the daughter of treasury secretary and presidential wanna-be William Cleary (Christopher Walken). William's formality does nothing to dim the mad glint in Walken's eye when he invites the guys for a weekend at his beach house.

Jeremy knows that William is dangerous. While John takes it slow with Claire, Jeremy enjoys a quickie in the dunes with Gloria (Isla Fisher), the secretary's other daughter, who promptly tells Jeremy that it was her first time and that they should declare their love. "Don't ever leave me," she warns. "I'd find you." Fisher gives the role just the right notes of erotic dazzle and fatal-attraction menace. Naturally, Jeremy panics. "I got a stage-five clinger," he tells John. Both must also deal with a quail hunt, a bone-crushing game of touch football and the secretary's nympho wife (Jane Seymour).

In the film's final stage, when John and Jeremy blow their covers and John hatches a plan to win back Claire, a softness seeps in. Luckily, an unbilled Will Ferrell shows up as the guru of arrested male development who finds weddings to be old hat — he crashes funerals.

Ferrell's appearance points to a new phenom in comedy. Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell, along with pals Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Owen's brother Luke, have formed an unofficial acting company. They show up in one another's films, be it Anchorman, Old School or Dodgeball, without regard to the size of their roles or their billing. It's fun they're after, and in Wedding Crashers three of these new clown princes deliver the goods.

From The Archives Issue 364: March 4, 1982