Maybe it just seems as though Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn have been around in movies forever, but, in fact, they both got their start in the late Eighties and Nineties, which isn't that long ago. Yet it's been long enough for each of the actors to have established a definite screen persona. Wilson is forever the amiable, good-natured, slow-talking, universal nice guy, and Vaughn is most often the glib, fast-talking, semi con man. The romantic comedy "Wedding Crashers" from 2005 pairs them up well in what is undoubtedly one of the best starring vehicles for both men.
Just to keep the record straight before continuing, you might be aware that Wilson and Vaughn worked together previously in "Starsky & Hutch" and "Zoolander"; that Vaughn worked with Wilson's brother Luke in "Old School"; and that the director of "Wedding Crashers," David Dobkin, worked with Wilson previously in "Shanghai Knights" and with Vaughn in "Clay Pigeons." I've probably overlooked some other connections, but you get the idea. Everyone in Hollywood is related.
All genre flicks need an angle, something to differentiate them from the rest of the crowd, so this romantic comedy uses the buddy-movie approach. The film works as a sort of double romantic comedy with both Wilson and Vaughn getting into the romance picture. You get two for the price of one, so to speak, and in this case more is actually better. The buddy angle pays off.
Wilson and Vaughn play a pair of divorce lawyers in Washington, D.C., who get their kicks crashing weddings on weekends and picking up girls. That they are both pushing forty and getting much too old for this kind of immature tomfoolery doesn't seem to register on Vaughn's character, Jeremy Grey, the more cynical of the two, but it's clearly beginning to wear on Wilson's more sensitive character, John Beckworth. Nor do either of them seem to worry that all the girls they bed down appear to be about half their age; but I suppose the idea of leading men cast alongside much younger women is too much of a time-honored tradition in Hollywood to set aside.
Anyway, all is going along swimmingly for the two guys until they crash a posh wedding for the daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury, William Cleary (Christopher Walken). How posh? John McCain and James Carville play themselves as guests. Here, each of the fellows becomes more involved with a girl than he expected. John falls for the Secretary's daughter, Claire (Rachel McAdams), and Jeremy becomes rather fond of Claire's sister, Gloria (Isla Fisher). The trouble is that Claire's already got a boyfriend, and Gloria is so clinging that it scares Jeremy.
The first third of the film, where the two buddies are crashing weddings, is the most fun. They use humorously corny pickup lines, they maintain notoriously low scruples, and they're always the life of the party even when they don't know a soul there. When the movie settles into their serious romantic conflicts, however, the momentum slows, the laughs come fewer and farther between, and the story winds up overstaying its welcome. There is also the problem that the movie creates a stronger chemistry between the two best buddies than between the buddies and their girlfriends, which can put a real damper on the "romantic" aspect of any romantic comedy.
Additionally, the scriptwriters, Steve Faber and Bob Fisher, resort to "goofy" family clichés in depicting the Secretary's immediate household. The eccentric-family gimmick has been around since the beginning of movies ("You Can't Take It With You," 1938, is one of the most-entertaining examples), but it doesn't stop Faber and Fisher from dredging it up once again. For instance, we meet grandma Cleary (Ellen Albertini Dow), a feisty, senile old bat; the Secretary's son, Todd (Keir O'Donnell), an angry, certified wacko; and the Secretary's wife, Kathleen (Jane Seymour), who makes Mrs. Robinson's behavior in "The Graduate" seem restrained.
Worse, the movie portrays Claire as sweet and smart but not smart enough to recognize that Sack (Bradley Cooper), the boyfriend she's been dating for several years, is an empty-headed macho jerk, something the audience sees in a minute. And as for Claire's sister Gloria, she thinks like an intellectually challenged twelve-year-old and behaves like a perpetual sex machine. With stereotypes like these, it's hard to get too interested in any of the peripheral characters. Then an uncredited guest star shows up late in the game playing the pair's hero, Chazz Reinhold, the author of the rules for wedding crashing, and he pretty much carries the picture from then on out.
Despite my reservations, "Wedding Crashers" goes a step beyond the usual romantic comedy with its buddy angle, and the opposing comedic styles of Wilson and Vaughn complement each other nicely, so it's amusing to see the two actors working together. If the movie tends to drift into the commonplace in its second half, well, so be it. There's still enough entertainment value in the proceedings to justify one's time.
Because this Blu-ray disc contains two versions of the film, a lossless audio track, and several bonus items, Warner/New Line decided to use a dual-layer BD50 to accommodate all the material. They also use a 1080p, VC-1 encode for the 2.40:1-ratio movie, resulting in a very clean, very clear, and reasonably well-detailed picture. What's more, the colors are deep and vibrant, but they're never overdone to the point of gaudiness; the black levels remain consistently deep; and a light film grain reminds one of being in a theater. Facial characteristics in close-ups can be somewhat soft, though, my only quibble. The fact is, much of the video looks downright gorgeous.
The audio engineers provide an English-language soundtrack in both regular Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD 5.1. While there certainly isn't much here to reproduce beyond dialogue and musical backgrounds, the TrueHD is punchy enough to render even the most rambunctious pop tunes with authority. More important, the audio reproduces voices smoothly and naturally, and it imparts a pleasant sense of ambient bloom to the music. The surrounds do a decent job of picking up a few crowd noises, otherwise sticking to support for the musical score.
Undoubtedly, the main "extra" on the disc is getting two movies, the regular theatrical edition and a special "Uncorked" extended version, which provides an additional eight minutes of footage. I can't say the additional minutes improve the film, but it pleases me that Warner/New Line chose to include both versions. Choice is always good. Both versions of the film come with commentaries, one commentary with stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and the other with director David Dobkin. In both cases, the participants seem to have made their theatrical commentaries first and then added in their "Uncorked" comments later.
Besides the two versions of the film, we get four deleted scenes, with optional director commentary, totaling about eight minutes; two making-of featurettes, "Event Planning," eleven minutes, and "The Rules of Wedding Crashing," seven minutes; and a dreadful music video, "Circus," by The Sights.
Things finish up with twenty scene selections but no bookmarks; a teaser and a theatrical trailer; pop-up menus; English as the only spoken language; Spanish subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
Although "Wedding Crashers" is just as predicable as any other romantic comedy, at least it's got Owen Wilson's easygoing sincerity and Vince Vaughn's facile insincerity to carry it along. The two actors make a good contrasting team and bring an energy to the story that many romantic comedies lack. The fact that the movie made me laugh any number of times helps, too.