Wedding Crashers

Much of the actual wedding crashing that gets done in the new movie of the same name takes place in the first reel; the rest of this plot-heavy comedy finds Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson trying to ingratiate themselves in the high society family whose nuptials they infiltrate.To borrow a line from Airplane!, they bought the ticket—now let them crash.

Vaughn and Wilson play two D.C. divorce arbitration lawyers—as established in a funny opening sequence involving Rebecca De Mornay and a sickly-looking Dwight Yoakam—who take each summer off to cruise the eastern seaboard for free booze and easy action.They score the ultimate blue-blood ticket in the daughter of a wealthy and influential Cabinet member played by Christopher Walken.They’re the life of the party and get invited back on Secretary Cleary’s yacht for a weekend-long wedding after-party at the family’s palatial beach house.

Once there, Wilson tries to get between the Secretary’s daughter Claire (Rachel McAdams) and her boyfriend Zack (Bradley Cooper), while Vaughn tries to steer clear of the Secretary’s disturbed youngest daughter. To keep up appearances of being venture capitalists from New Hampshire, they must assure the master of the house that they know the rules of the game, which mostly involve sailing and quail-hunting.As an absurd bruised-liberal fantasy of how the moneyed elite in Washington spend their days off, this is all pretty great stuff.Bradley Cooper in particular plays his private school schmuck to the hilt; he’s as aggro for two-hand touch—decked out in rugby gear—as he is for his environmental PR firm job.

The film’s real surprise is McAdams.She’s got a terrific laugh and expressive eyes.Her romance with Wilson’s character is sweet and memorable—they even dare to rip off the bicycle scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s hard to believe this is the same actress who was forced to inherit Rob Schneider’s icky body in 2002’s dreadful The Hot Chick. Since then, she appeared as the leader of the pack in Mean Girls, where she was effective even if playing “hot” and “bitchy” didn’t exactly show her range much.In last year’s tearjerker The Notebook, her coltish beauty helped anchor an otherwise maudlin tale.If this movie’s any indication, she’s poised to break out in a big way.

Whatever its faults—and it’s got them, starting with an over-plotted script and extending to such tired bits as the potty-mouthed granny—Wedding Crashers lives and dies by the strength of its leads.Wilson and Vaughn are generous comedians; they love more than anything injecting disarming affection into their comedy.They’re pros at crashing weddings and they respect each other’s work.The tension in Wedding Crashers (at least before everyone on the bride’s side starts trying to seduce Vaughn) comes from Wilson’s character John wanting to settle down.Appropriately, John heads into the Cleary wedding like a thief on his last job.

Director David Dobkin, who directed Wilson in Shanghai Knights and Vaughn in Clay Pigeons, clearly loves them and, in turn, loves filling the frame with close-ups of their faces. Wedding Crashers could never be a total failure, if only for the sheer amount of time they get to bullshit each other and rest of the large cast. Because, really, who wouldn’t want these two to come along for the whole weekend?

Jesse Paddock