Vince + Owen = Comedy Gold

It’s been so long since there’s been a movie as exuberantly hilarious as Wedding Crashers that it catches you almost totally by surprise. Too many comedies settle for just putting a smile on your face or a warm buzz in your belly. But this movie – directed by David Dobkin and written by Steve Faber and Bob Fisher – aspires to more than that. This is Something About Mary funny, Meet the Parents funny, American Pie funny. It will do just about anything to make you laugh, including one memorably bawdy sexual encounter at a dinner table. This is a film unafraid to embrace its R-rating. And sometimes that eagerness crosses the line, such as with a fairly uncomfortable side plot involving a creepy, vaguely predatory gay man that feels like it belongs in a movie from 1985. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn – wisely sticking to their firmly-established personas as a rumpled romantic and a wise-ass scoundrel, respectively – are bachelors who spend their free time crashing weddings to take single women to bed. Their routine hits a speed bump when Wilson’s character John starts to fall for one of his marks – the luminous Claire Cleary, played by the twinkle-eyed Rachel McAdams. This leads Wilson and Vaughn to spend a weekend with Claire’s weirdo upper-crust family, headed by Christopher Walken. (It should tell you something to know that Walken’s playing one of more normal and level-headed people in the movie.) Naturally, over the course of the story, Wilson and Vaughn’s characters learn to Change Their Ways. The end result is a foregone conclusion. How we get there is where the fun lies. But while the movie has a amusingly zippy energy when it’s stuck in WASPy blue-blood world of khaki and cocktails, once the wedding-crasher ruse is exposed – as ruses always must in these kinds of movies – and Claire rejects John for being a liar, the story languishes in a plodding third act that goes on and on and on for at least half an hour too long. The film’s hurt further by an increasingly silly tone (a last-minute cameo by a well-known comedy star is more irritating than inspired) that undercuts what meager sense of realism it had initially created. Which is a shame because although the climax is funny, it’s also the kind of thing that never, ever happens anywhere but in movie like this. Then again, maybe “funny” is sometimes more important than “realistic.”

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