Always a Bridesmaid

If Vince Vaughn puts any effort into what he’s doing, it doesn’t show, which is perhaps one of the benefits of always appearing to be hung over. The man probably has to check the bags under his eyes at the airport, and he’s about as in shape as a toddler’s fistful of Play-Doh. Onscreen, he looks like any other buddy who’d loan you a smoke, buy you a beer or give you a call when he needs someone to bail him out of jail. He’s a role model for every guy who ever dreamed of living in his parents’ basement till he was 35.

In Wedding Crashers, a movie about two guys who troll for tail during strangers’ nuptials, Vaughn doesn’t even give co-star Owen Wilson a chance to own a piece of the property. It’s all his, even when Vaughn isn’t onscreen; we’re forced to bide our time until his return, because any scene featuring just Wilson and his would-be lover (Rachel McAdams) is slower than a turtle in a bear trap. Vaughn stakes his claim from the jump, an opening scene featuring Dwight Yoakam and Rebecca De Mornay as a splintering couple feuding over frequent-flier miles. Vaughn and Wilson — as Jeremy Klein and John Beckwith, respectively — are there to mediate their dispute, but instead Vaughn delivers a long-winded, mile-a-second monologue about how beautiful weddings inevitably lead to the husband’s screwing mistresses in Denver motel rooms and the wife’s wiping her Latin lover’s sweat off her naked bod. The scene plays as though wholly improvised — not even Vaughn seems to know what the hell he’s talking about.

Under director David Dobkin, who has worked with Wilson (Shanghai Knights) and Vaughn (Clay Pigeons) before, Wedding Crashers is that rarest of entities in these appalling appeal-to-everyone days of moviemaking: one that flaunts its R rating. Vaughn and Wilson punctuate their sentences with more f-bombs than a porn movie, recalling the heyday of National Lampoon’s Animal House, Caddyshack and Stripes, comedies made for grown-ups who still giggled like preteens. Wedding Crashers stretches its sketch-comedy premise to epic proportions (two hours, sweet Lord), but it’s to be celebrated for its fearlessness. It can’t help but feel right to laugh at Vaughn when he says, after a night of particularly rough sex with his nutty wannabe lover, Gloria (Isla Fisher), “I felt like Jodie Foster in The Accused last night.”

Aside from yet another pointless cameo from a friend of Wilson’s and Vaughn’s (no, it’s not Ben Stiller), the movie’s main flaw is that it goes on far, far too long. It has time to become ashamed of itself, eventually feeling the need to apologize for having had too good a time. It all but flagellates itself by giving in to so much true love that you’d be forgiven for feeling truly disappointed. Here’s a tip: When Vaughn and Wilson are outed as imposters and forced to leave Christopher Walken’s estate, grab your stuff and walk out. You’ll think you just saw a comedy masterpiece.

Categories: Movies