© 2005, 2006 Static and Feedback
All rights reserved
|Wilson and Vaughn can't
keep this film from crashing
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Director: David Dobkin
By JIM CAROLUS
STATIC and FEEDBACK staff writer
There is no arguing with the fact that Wedding
Crashers is a funny movie. Whether it’s funny enough
to justify the nearly obscene amount of hype
surrounding it is another matter entirely. Before AND
after seeing the movie, I talked with person after
person who raved about how “hilarious” it was. With
this kind of overblown word-of-mouth, it’s difficult not to
be disappointed in a film that, all things considered,
turns out to be nothing more than a genial but
bloodless mainstream comedy. At least Harold and
Kumar had something new to say about the American
experience and fashioned some memorable
characters amidst all the pandering gross-out humor.
Despite my considerable problems with the generic
nature of the screenplay (I didn’t laugh once at
Christopher Walken, which might be a crime in
Oregon, I’ll have to check the statutes), the lead actors
are as inspired as the dialogue they spout is UN-
inspired. Owen Wilson and (especially) Vince Vaughn
are comic revelations in this movie. They have every
potential to be our generation’s Hope and Crosby (unless, of course, they keep letting Ben Stiller into their
movies to upstage them with awful overacting). Both actors handle their lines with a comic timing that makes
even the most clichéd banter uproariously funny. They are so good they actually distract you from the awful
dialogue! One scene, in which Vaughn implores Wilson not to walk away “while wearing a funny suit” is so
brilliantly delivered it actually deepened my disappointment that the script didn’t make room for more naturalistic
(and therefore funnier) exchanges.
This brings me to an important observation I had while watching the film in a packed theater. I noticed the
moments that seemed funniest to ME were not the moments that seemed funniest to the collective audience. I
think I’m beginning to understand why that is. Comedy is such a difficult medium (particularly in film) because its
success is entirely based on chemistry and human interactions. Or at least, that’s how it USED to be. Now,
audiences are programmed to laugh at the most obviously “funny” moments, often ignoring the subtler
interactions between characters that distinguish a mediocre comedy from a brilliant one. TV advertising has
literally robbed people of their ability to decide for THEMSELVES what’s funny and not funny.
National Lampoon’s Animal House (still one of the funniest “mainstream” comedies in my book) is a perfect
illustration of this point, because although it frequently employed “gross-out” gags (albeit with wit and
observational humor rather than generic contrivance), the heart of the film is in the fact that we feel as though we
know and love these characters. The same is true of Swingers. I get the impression the audience I saw Wedding
Crashers with would only have laughed at the “You’re so money” line because it was in the TV commercials, and
that’s just sad.
As is the case with so many “light” comedies, Wedding Crashers fails because it wants to be taken seriously
after all the hijinx have ended. Despite moments of cartoonish and juvenile humor, it eventually aspires to be
“realistically” funny. What, with boob jokes and outrageous wedding pickup lines that would NEVER work? The
director should have either gone for all-out Farrelly Brothers vulgarity or made the film more believable. Instead,
he tries to do both and winds up failing. Wilson and Vaughn give realistically funny performances, but everyone
else acts like a complete weirdo! That isn’t humor, its script desperation.
In fact, the movie’s funniest scene is one of its least complicated, as a dejected Wilson tells Vaughn “I love you,
man” (or something to that effect) as Vaughn, chugging champagne, nonchalantly responds “I love you too” with
a mouth full of food. It isn’t the line that’s funny. The humor is in the delivery and the chemistry between the lead
actors. That chemistry is literally the ONLY reason to see Wedding Crashers (except for an absolutely hysterical,
fall-down funny cameo by Will Ferrell at the end that is actually the only well-written part of the movie).
I realize maybe I’ve been a bit hard on a movie that aspires to be nothing more than a fluffy, lightweight summer
comedy. My problem is that I didn’t need another fluffy, lightweight summer comedy (even though this one is,
comparatively, pretty good). I needed the biting satire of Team America: World Police or A Mighty Wind, the
idiosyncratic uniqueness of Napoleon Dynamite, the end-of-your-rope poignancy (with a smile) of Garden State,
or the exuberant, “try anything” spirit of Shaun of the Dead and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
I didn’t get it. Instead, I got two funny actors mired in a sea of tired gags. And no, the morose “gay” artist and
“vulgar granny” weren’t funny. They were just tiresome and poorly developed.
Consider this wedding officially crashed.