×

Wedding Crashers

While neither a full-throated R-rated romp a la "There's Something About Mary" nor a fully realized romantic comedy, "Wedding Crashers" contains enough appealing elements of both to catch the bouquet in what's been a relatively humor-deprived summer.

With:
John Beckwith - Owen Wilson Jeremy Grey - Vince Vaughn Secretary Cleary - Christopher Walken Claire Cleary - Rachel McAdams Gloria Cleary - Isla Fisher Kathleen Cleary - Jane Seymour Grandma Mary Cleary - Ellen Albertini Dow Todd Cleary - Keir O'Donnell Sack Lodge - Bradley Cooper Randolph - Ron Canada Father O'Neil - Henry Gibson

While neither a full-throated R-rated romp a la “There’s Something About Mary” nor a fully realized romantic comedy, “Wedding Crashers” contains enough appealing elements of both to catch the bouquet in what’s been a relatively humor-deprived summer. Pic starts slowly, peaks in the middle and can’t quite sustain that energy through to the satisfying finish, but there are enough laugh-out-loud moments for New Line to toast to healthy traffic down the aisles.

A too-long montage (one of a few) introduces John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn), two divorce arbitrators who have mastered the art of crashing weddings, an event that causes female attendees to “throw their inhibitions to the wind.” Their well-practiced routine is full of carefully plotted approaches — from dancing with the flower girl to expressing their fondness for Oprah’s book club — for capturing women’s vulnerable hearts just long enough to entice them into bed.

That’s all a prelude, however, to the main event: The wedding of the daughter to a well-connected Washington politico, Secretary Cleary (Christopher Walken, at about two-thirds speed), where John gets struck by the proverbial thunderbolt upon seeing the good secretary’s other daughter, Claire (“The Notebook’s” Rachel McAdams).

Jeremy, meanwhile, seduces a third daughter, Cleary (Isla Fisher), though the love-’em-and-skedaddle act gets thrown for a loop when John accepts a weekend invitation to the Kennedy-esque clan’s vacation home, hoping to extend his chances of wooing Claire away from her pugnacious boyfriend (Bradley Cooper).

What proceeds is fairly amusing, fitfully over the top and — in a series of gags about the Cleary girls’ creepy brother (Keir O’Donnell) — occasionally a touch homophobic. Most of the gags are drawn from the playbook of rich folks’ eccentricities, from the foul-mouthed grandmother to the horny matriarch (Jane Seymour) who takes a “The Graduate”-like pass at seducing John.

Jeremy, meanwhile, endures an increasingly bizarre array of indignities, from a full-contact game of touch football to a memorable under-the-table dinner sequence that takes “Goodbye, Columbus” up a couple of notches.

Director David Dobkin and writers Steve Faber and Bob Fisher have the wedding trappings and psychology of the ceremonial seduction down pat, but they’re on less assured footing in selling the John-Claire romance. Fortunately, McAdams is such a beguiling presence she helps fill in narrative gaps and actually creates a real character — a rarity for females in one of these lad-mag escapades.

While Wilson spends much of his time pining, Vaughn’s rapid-fire dialogue yields most of the comedic highlights, from labeling a woman a “Stage 5 clinger” to his hushed reverence toward the fellow who originated the wedding crasher’s art, leading to the inevitable (and after the first glimpse, pretty ho-hum) celebrity cameo.

Walken has too little to do as the powerful-but-doting dad, while Cooper’s boyfriend is such a sneering cartoon it’s a little too easy to root for Claire to dump him. And while it’s mentioned more than once that Wilson and Vaughn aren’t that young, they probably are a tad old for this brand of shenanigans, especially since they conveniently encounter so few husbands and boyfriends as obstacles.

Yet even with those minor gripes — and the larger one that the movie, like many a wedding, drags on a bit too long — it’s mostly an agreeable ride, with a deftly assembled soundtrack and even a rather sappy message about true love underlying it all.

Indeed, “Wedding Crashers'” real secret is that despite flashes of nudity, crudity and mockery of women’s raging hormones at the first sight of a trousseau, at its core it’s just a big pushover with the heart of a chick flick.

Popular on Variety

Wedding Crashers

Production: A New Line Cinema release of a Tapestry Films production. Produced by Peter Abrams, Robert L. Levy, Andrew Panay. Executive producers, Guy Riedel, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Cale Boyter. Directed by David Dobkin. Screenplay, Steve Faber, Bob Fisher.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Julio Macat; editor, Mark Livolsi; music, Rolfe Kent; production designer, Barry Robison; art director, Kevin Constant; set decorator, Garrett Lewis; costume designer, Denise Wingate; sound (SDDS Dolby Digital DTS), Mark Ulano; sound designers/supervising sound editors, Tim Chau, Nils Jensen; stunt coordinator, Joe Bucaro; assistant director, Vincent Lascoumes; casting, Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman. Reviewed at New Line screening room, Los Angeles, July 1, 2005. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 119 MIN.

With: John Beckwith - Owen Wilson Jeremy Grey - Vince Vaughn Secretary Cleary - Christopher Walken Claire Cleary - Rachel McAdams Gloria Cleary - Isla Fisher Kathleen Cleary - Jane Seymour Grandma Mary Cleary - Ellen Albertini Dow Todd Cleary - Keir O'Donnell Sack Lodge - Bradley Cooper Randolph - Ron Canada Father O'Neil - Henry Gibson

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content