Retrospective: Wedding Crashers (2005)


A movie that makes me smile whatever my mood is worthy of further exploration. I believe Wedding Crashers is perfect for this. It was a rather surprising hit at the time and in many ways it is the precursor of effectively a new genre of ‘bloke movies’ which can also be watched with the wife or girlfriend. It’s a movie which has a lovely combination of humour as well as sweet romance. It was possibly one of the most talked about movies when it first came out and I remember hearing about it on the radio, especially in regards to comparisons between British and American comedies, in particular the genre of the wedding movie. It was obviously compared with Four Weddings and a Funeral which is a typical British example of this sort of film but much more of a rom-com. Being British myself I do feel Four Weddings portrays weddings much more familiarly than those shown here, although I welcome comments on the veracity of this view!

The main characters are not necessarily the most interesting. They are two lawyer tosser-types, John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn), divorce mediators who share a hobby for crashing weddings and sleeping with strangers. Their success is shown in a lovely montage of various weddings from a range of ethnic groups. The plot is a variant of ‘one last go (with a difference)’. They crash the wedding of the daughter of a Washington big-wig type which has all the trimmings of a very expensive East Coast wedding in the middle of the boom years (the film was made in 2005 so feels dated in a very strange way). Both of these libertine characters meet their match and are turned by a goodish woman. They fall out relating to the said women, who knocks them off their feet and they break every rule that they have set. Despite its louche exterior it’s really very old fashioned and can be considered a family movie despite some of the rather racy sexual content.

There are so many reasons I like this movie. The first and foremost is that it’s got a really good cast who look like they are having lots of fun, not least Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Christopher Walken’s disapproving father has that trademark Walken touch and let’s face it – any movie he is in is always worth a look. Then there’s his couger-ish wife who is an ex Bond girl, Jane Seymour and the two girls, Isla Fisher who is really good comic foil to Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams who does a good job of looking confused, which is her expression for the majority of the film. Add in a creepy gay character and a strange grandmother and the family is complete, plus a wonderful young Bradley Cooper who plays the most vile environmentalist you could hope to meet. He seems to have been modeled on all those sanctimonious environmentalists who use their environmentalism to hide the great void in which their real character should be. There is a wonderful series of what can best be called sketches and a really nice choice of indie music. The film places the characters in all sort of amusing situations like a hunting trip with a Dick Cheney moment. At its core is a movie about love and mistaken/hidden identity and all the fun that’s involved when dealing with the rich and powerful WASPs of New England. At a push I can say Wedding Crashers is in some ways a spiritual inheritor to films such as The Philadelphia Story.

This is one of the stranger indie films because it doesn’t look like or feel like it. Its budget of $40m is bang in the middle of indie movie money, which makes it a curiosity because like Four Weddings it’s a movie that achieved surprise success and introduced actors who were not terribly well known previously. It’s a movie which doesn’t take itself seriously and is good, rather racy fun filled with wonderful exchanges and lines such as ‘do choose girls with hats’, ‘that one eye fucked me’ (every one looks round on the pews while the sermon ­continues in the background) and betting on the passages for the sermon. This is a wonderfully light-hearted movie which inspired such movies as The Hangover, Bridesmaids, and many others, good or bad – delete according to preferences!

Review by Harry Riedl

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