The Wedding Crasher

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

                A funny thing happens on the way to this church.  An hour into “The Wedding Crasher,” audience laughter begins to dim; it doesn’t disappear, it just dims.  We can feel the disappointment.  The movie that began with such pizzazz becomes a pale and elongated repetition of itself.  When John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) flirt with redemption they are far less interesting than when they are bad guys.

                For these two con men, the highlight of their year is the wedding season.  They are perfectly equipped for their avocation.  Powered by sheer gall and blessedly uninhibited by conscience, they follow the “Rules of Wedding Crashing,” the first of which is “Draw attention to yourself on your own terms.”  No sneaking around, just act as if you own the day - which shortly they do. 

Each of these devils has an appealing smile, an endless supply of the tricks of the trade, and a tireless sex drive.  What more do they need to become the hits of two or so dozen wedding receptions each year?  Jeremy can tie balloons into any shape the kids can imagine.  John can charm the mothers of the brides and the flower girls.  Both love to dance.  This they do until, as the accepted center of attention, they manage to bed the beautiful women they spotted way back there in the church. 

When John answers a curious questioner with, “We’re Aunt Liz’s sons,” and the answer comes back, “She’s dead,” he has violated the rule of “Don’t commit to relatives unless they have a pulse.”

By now we are enjoying the silliness of this movie, waiting happily for what they will dream up next.  One of the nexts is the wedding vow scene between a weeping bride and her sappy sailing jock of a groom exchanging their vows in ludicrous nautical terms.  It’s a neat riff on all the homemade wedding services we’ve been to over the years.   When Gloria (Isla Fisher), one of Jeremy’s conquests, gets serious about him, “Whoops, I’ve got a stage 5 clinger,” is his comment.  Built on comic fraud and deceit, the movie soaks us up in an irresistible one-liner rhythm – for a while.

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are a dream vaudeville team, feeding each other lines and reactions that are often explosively funny.  Vaughn, who can’t seem to open his mouth without unleashing a lengthy and masterful rat-a-tat-tat justification of his behavior, is the pivot of the movie.  So what goes wrong?  It’s simply that the two lose their edge when they turn nice even for a moment.  After knowing them for an hour, we don’t want these men to have a conscience.  Running at least 30 minutes too long, the movie loses steam and loses sight of one of the “Rules of Wedding Crashing”:   “There is no room for error.”  Director David Dobkin should have known the comic victory of his stars lay in their essential selfishness.


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