Sunday 18 May 2014

Movie Review: Wedding Crashers (2005)

A raucous comedy, Wedding Crashers thrives within a clever premise that feeds themes of friendship, growing up, and meeting your match.

In Washington DC, John and Jeremy (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn) are best friends and colleagues at work, where they mediate between married couples going through nasty divorces. Well into adulthood but still acting like college fratboys, they get their kicks by crashing weddings, enjoying unlimited food and drink, dancing the night away and picking up women revved-up by the idea of idyllic romance for hot one-night stands.

After a hectic season of wedding crashing, John begins to question the juvenile lifestyle. But Jeremy insists on one last wedding: the daughter of William Cleary (Christopher Walken), the very wealthy Secretary of the Treasury, is getting married. Despite John's protestations they crash the wedding and a subsequent Cleary family weekend, and unexpectedly get entangled in complex relationships with two of Cleary's daughters. John falls in love with the free spirited Claire (Rachel McAdams), who is already in a relationship with the insufferable Sack Lodge (Bradley Cooper). Jeremy seduces the wild youngest daughter Gloria (Isla Fisher), not knowing exactly how much trouble he is getting into: she is more lustful than he is, and plays him like a cheap fiddle. Meanwhile, Cleary's wife Kathleen "Kitty Kat" (Jane Seymour) is prowling all available men to get her cougarish kicks.

Wedding Crashers is often hilarious. Director David Dobkin quickly establishes the unique yet rational premise, and allows his two lead actors to let loose. John and Jeremy behave like teenagers who have found the magical key to a life of unlimited partying and casual sex with beautiful women. But the film succeeds well beyond its title. After the initial montage of wild crashing, the story settles down to what's next for the two men, and the challenge of finding their way out of unevolved and circular habits to launch into something resembling adulthood.

Vaughn and Wilson make for a terrific pair of underdeveloped men, John and Jeremy unwilling to let go of their youth despite John's growing doubt that they should really be beyond immature antics. Wilson gets the more thoughtful role, and imparts sensitivity to go along with fading boyishness. Vaughn is more driven to hang on to the past, Jeremy living his life according to an arcane code of caveman behaviour developed by the legendary Chazz (Will Ferrell, who makes a late, uncredited appearance).

John is therefore more open to fundamental change and once he sets eyes on Claire he can start to see his way to a different and better future. Jeremy is generally blind to any life that compromises his instinctive need to have uncontrolled fun, and it takes a large wallop to the side of the head in the form of Gloria to knock him off his default path. The shifting dynamics between the two men is at the heart of the movie, as their deep friendship is tested by diverging expectations.

Rachel McAdams is her usual appealing girl next door, although in this case a very rich girl next door, and McAdams tends to smile too much throughout the film. More fiery is Isla Fisher who creates in Gloria a borderline nymphomaniac, an impulsive, uninhibited, and fun-loving woman, the kind who can singe Jeremy with her own afterburners.

The script by Steve Faber and Bob Fisher populates the Cleary family with weird and wonderful members, including an uncensored grandmother (Ellen Albertini Dow), a creepy artist son (Keir O'Donnell), the lustful Kitty Kat and, most troublesome for John's pursuit of Claire, her intended beau Sack Lodge. In a pre-stardom role, Bradley Cooper goes all out to make Sack a loathsome rich jock full of self-entitlement and just enough social talent to fool many people most of the time. They combine to create a madcap family with enough pitfalls to trip up the best that John and Jeremy can offer in terms of infiltrative deceit and subterfuge.

The Wedding Crashers are definitely uninvited, but prove to be spectacularly funny and successful guests.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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