[3 March 2006]
The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers might have made it safe for adults to go back to big-screen comedies in 2005, but it was the latter that reminded those viewers that adulthood doesn’t mean growing up—at least in the traditional sense.
Focused on two marriage counselors, John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn), that crash weddings in order to have some free booze and food and, most importantly, get laid, Wedding Crashers can be a tad sophomoric in its humor. But that’s to be expected from a Frat Pack (groan) film. Where it separates itself from other recent comedies, like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, is in its ability to shun the convention of forcing its characters to grow up.
And juvenile John and Jeremy are. From all that we see in the film, they’re well off. They have a job that pays well, a decent home, good clothes—all the things needed to sustain the GenX adult. But their measure of success is how easily they can infiltrate a wedding (regardless if it is a Christian, Jewish, or Hindi ceremony), how quickly they can bed a woman they meet at a wedding reception, and how easy it was to do it.
Wedding Crashers ultimately concerns itself with the relationship between John and Claire Geary (Rachel MacAdams), the daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury (Christopher Walken), whom he meets at the wedding of another of Secretary Cleary’s daughter. Caught up in the whirlwind of John’s infatuation-cum-love-at-first-sight with Claire and the ensuing hijinks John gets himself into while attempting to woo her away from his fiancé is Jeremy, who lands a “Stage Five Clinger” in Gloria (Isla Fisher), the Secretary’s third daughter. Matters aren’t helped any when, first, Jeremy has sex with her on a beach then, second, she reveals she is—was—a virgin and, third, they all go to the Cleary’s vacation house for a post-reception weekend.
From here, the usual amount of crazy raunchiness for this type of film ensues, and the result is legitimately funny. Vaughn and Wilson work well together, and their chemistry is evident in every moment of the film. Excellent, too, are the supporting cast, with Walken and Fisher leading the way. But for all of its success, Wedding Crashers isn’t revelatory. At least, not in its comedy.
What’s most interesting in the film is that, in today’s cinematic climate, comedies such as this rarely enter theaters with an R rating, and if they do they are extraordinarily tame. (Say what you want about morals and values and the like—the movement from the right to entrench these things in popular culture is killing the American raunch comedy!) Not only did it make it to theaters with what now would be considered a “hard R,” but it did so with hard R content. From nudity to the language to the situations, Wedding Crashers has everything to qualify it for entry into the “In the Vein of Porky’s” section at your local Blockbuster. You just don’t see this kind of movie much as a first-run theatrical presentation.
And for their part, Wilson, Vaughn, and director David Dobkin try to raise the film above that by rinsing its dirty mouth out with the “There’s a lesson here” soap. Luckily, they don’t try too hard. Whatever morality or lessons there are to be learned here aren’t given very much substance—Wilson and Vaughn, both fairly pathetic scoundrels when you get right down to it, never really get the comeuppance disreputable characters such as these get in the movies. While they either end up married or in a serious relationship at the end, there really isn’t a whole lot of growing up going on. When the film begins, they want to infiltrate, seek, and destroy; as it ends they, along with their significant others, want to infiltrate and maybe seek, but the destroying is out of the picture. This is about as far as they go when it comes to growing out of their former ways. They’re still frat boy-ish; they still want to live the fast life, except now with a committed relationship in hand. (Though how long such a relationship would last with fellas like this is a question worth considering.)
When you get right down to it, such a narrative makes for an interesting comedy to students of film but it’s not what makes it a success—and it’s not why it made upwards of $200 million domestically. No, it’s the crass; it’s the raunch. And Wedding Crashers has it in spades, especially on the DVD.
Featuring an unrated—or “Uncorked”—version of the film that adds a handful of extra minutes to the film, the DVD of Wedding Crashers should sit nicely next to Old School and Anchorman on your shelf. The new version of the film is that much funnier, and for fans of the film it shouldn’t matter that the theatrical cut of the film is also housed on the disc—the Uncorked version is all you need (though it’s nice that the studio decided to put both cuts of the film on one disc).“Louder! Wilder! Funnier!” indeed.
Visually, the film looks great. There’s nothing spectacular in the film, like explosions or giant set pieces, to make you want to show the film off as a testament to how rockin’ your entertainment system is, so the visual end can be forgiven some imperfections. All that matters is that the image is crisp and bright, highlighting the colorful palette of the film, and this DVD certainly does that. Plus, the excised footage included on the Uncorked edition of the film is integrated seamlessly into the film, which is always nice to see. Similarly, on the audio side, there really isn’t anything dynamic going on. Wedding Crashers is fairly dialogue-driven, and what’s important is that you can understand what’s happening. The sound isn’t exactly reference quality, but it’s not muddled either. You can hear what’s being said with clarity and accuracy, be it the original or reinserted footage.
Extras-wise, the disc isn’t loaded but it’s certainly not bare. Found on the disc are four deleted scenes, which can be watched with commentary; two commentaries, one with Wilson and Vaughn, the other with Dobkin; a “Rules of Wedding Crashing” text featurette which shows, appropriately enough, the rules of crashing weddings; two featurettes on the making of the film; and trailers for Wedding Crashers and other New Line films. And, of course, two versions of the films.
For fans of the film—and there are many—this is as good a set you can hope for. The nice thing about the Frat Pack is that they don’t skimp on the DVDs of their films. Wedding Crashers is no exception.