As I see it, Wedding Crashers is a sex farce wrapped in a romantic comedy. Many reviewers have found this clash of genres inconsistent. Sour grapes, I say. The movie is consistently funny, and that’s what matters.
Present day Hollywood comedy has two camps. There’s the Saturday Night Live-alum school, which tends to produce lame character-based vehicles (Deuce Bigalow, Head of State). Then there’s the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn-Ben Stiller axis, which puts out movies that have a goofy charm and some experimental narrative devices to boot. Despite a great SNL-alum cameo, Wedding Crashers falls squarely in this camp. While it doesn’t reach the giddy heights of Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights, the vulgar lows of Old School, or approach the dumb-fun Dodgeball/Zoolander zone, it’s still got plenty of trademark zing. Crashers is edgy and funny enough to justify the R-rating.
The second act, where the two Don Juans find themselves in the middle of an Aristocrats joke, wants to be Joe Orton farcical: comedy that takes sex and death to the ultimate cynical conclusions. The movie doesn’t quite have the balls to go all the way — although the sexual depravity of the Clearys, American political royalty, provides the most pointed thrust at the Bush family since Fahrenheit 9/11. Crashers still has a not-so-cynical third act to get to.
True love, the movie concludes, can be found even in the most juvenile of hearts. This is what plants it firmly in the multiplex, unlike its art-house cousin Summer of Love. In the end, middle-class Hollywood movie morality triumphs. But not before we get to enjoy the 11th hour appearance of a character who would’ve made Joe Orton proud and whose utter depravity saves the movie from falling into the syrup bottle of sentimentality.1
1. Directing and writing credits, normally central in my reviews, seem oddly out of place here. While the above-the-line team deserves credit for making a funny movie, this is all Owen and Vince’s show. I usually hate to credit actors with ad-libs, but there are several obvious and hilarious ones in this movie; I used to think Owen Wilson got charity credits from Wes Anderson — now having seen The Life Aquatic, Wes’ first project without his scripting, I’m inclined to believe the distinct comedic mark of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore is Owen’s and Owen’s alone.
NEMESIS OPINION: Manohla Dargis won’t admit she laughed: “Crude? Yes. Funny? That’s up to you.”