You might have heard about the Frat Pack, an unofficial fraternity of current Hollywood comedy actors who seem to always be co-starring with one another. Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller have played opposite each other in half a dozen movies, while Stiller and Vince Vaughn have been in three flicks together. Vaughn and Wilson both appeared in Stiller’s Zoolander and Starsky & Hutch, but they had practically no scenes together. It gets even more complicated if you throw Jack Black, Will Ferrell and Luke Wilson into the mix, but what really concerns us at this juncture is the first –and hopefully not last- genuine team-up of Owen and Vince.
They’ve each honed specific comic personas over the years, so it’s no surprise to see everyone’s favorite Swinger play a loud-mouthed asshole and the Butterscotch Stallion do his offbeat surfer dude shtick but, when put together, it’s like a whole new dynamic. “Wedding Crashers” kinda crashes in the third act when it tries to turn into a romantic comedy, but the first hour or so is a delirious flow of mile-a-minute screwball banter and R-rated sex humor. Wilson and Vaughn show why they’re the life of the party in an early sequence set to the Isley Brothers’ Shout! with so much enthusiastic dancing, champagne and bare breasts that you wanna jump up and join these glorious fools!
As the title suggest, “Wedding Crashers” is about two lifelong friends who show up uninvited at weddings with made-up backgrounds to enjoy the free food, the open bar and the bridesmaids, who tend to get so emotional at these things that they lose their inhibitions. It’s hilarious to watch them lay the bullshit extra thick to get into the receptions and woo women. Their hysterical scheming and sleazing actually reminded me of The Producers, even if the movie is not always as brilliant and fun as Mel Brooks’ classic.
David Dobkin (who previously directed Vaughn in “Clay Pigeons” and Wilson in “Shanghai Knights”) does a correct job behind the camera, mostly staying out of the way of his leads’ riffing and on-set improvs, but he’s unable to take it up that extra notch, especially in the touchy-feely scenes. There’s this whole by-the-numbers subplot with Wilson’s character getting tired of his juvenile lifestyle and actually falling in love that takes over the film by the third act. The young woman fancies him too, but she’s already got a boyfriend (Bradley Cooper) – who’s a total dick, of course, so there’s no doubt of who we should be rooting for. Rachel McAdams is adorable, but her character is underwritten, she’s just “the Girl”, there’s no edge or kinks to her.
Infinitely more entertaining is the gal with whom Vaughn hooks up, a redhead firecracker played by Isla Fisher, who practically steals the movie. She’s a cute little thing, but she quickly reveals to be a “stage 5 clinger”, a psycho spoiled brat who’s “like a kid at Toys ‘R’ Us”, but aggressively sexual! Also enjoyable are the always priceless Christopher Walken as McAdams and Fisher’s father, Jane Seymour as his wife, a cougar fond of booze and young men, Keir O’Donnell as their disturbed homosexual painter son and a hilarious cameo by fellow Frat Packer Ferrell as a funeral crasher (!).
They could have easily lopped half an hour off “Wedding Crashers” (comedies shouldn’t run 119 minutes), but it still packs huge laughs and the Vaughn/Wilson pairing is a home run. Look Ma, no Ben Stiller!