August 15, 2005

Crash and Burn

Gotta take a brief break from the world of sport to discuss my most recent cinema-going experience. After twice being rebuffed by sold out crowds on opening weekend several weeks back, I finally caught “Wedding Crashers” on Friday night.

Before I comment on this, let me say that like most juvenile-minded men of my generation, I am an enthusiastic follower of this genre of film. And by “this genre of film,” I mean “basically any movie featuring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, or better yet – both.” I’ll readily acknowledge that both actors have been in some severe duds – Wilson, for example, was one of the key players in “
The Haunting,” one of three movies I’ve walked out of in my life (the other two, in case you were wondering, were “King Ralph” and “City Slickers 2”). Vince Vaughn’s lowest point, for the record – though I can’t say for certain because there have been a few – may have been “Made.” But their blatant failures aside, I celebrate the majority of both actors’ catalogues, and I’m really not that harsh of a critic – I happen to think “Starsky and Hutch” was more or less hilarious, though I know there are many of you out there who would disagree.

So it goes without saying that after having waited several weeks to see it and hearing more or less positive reviews from my friends (though some said it was too long – more on that in a bit), I was very much looking forward to seeing “Wedding Crashers.”

And it disappoints me greatly to say that I pretty much hated it.

Before you get all fired up, lovers of this film, let me say this: I thought Vince Vaughn, though not at the level of Trent from “Swingers,” was fantastic, and essentially saved the movie. But don’t confuse one man’s valiant efforts with good quality comedy. If Vince Vaughn doesn’t ad-lib about 30 hilarious lines, “Wedding Crashers” is one of the worst movies ever. And I’ll tell you why right now:

-I mentioned that some friends had warned me that the movie was too long. This is truly a cruel understatement. The movie’s runtime is 1 hour, 59 minutes, and I feel pretty confident that you could cut out at least 40 minutes of that. The problem – other than the fact that novice director David Dobkin clearly doesn’t believe in editing – is that much of the movie is sentimental slop. I understand that these movies have to contain a love interest to keep its more refined (read: sappy) audience members interested, but this movie took that notion to absurdly embarrassing heights. Essentially the entire second half of the movie, which takes place at Christopher Walken’s palacial waterside manor, is a crummy spinoff of “Meet the Parents” with really only one memorable scene (in which Vince Vaughn is pleasured against his will while sitting at the dinner table). The rest of the movie’s second half involves a toned-down, cheesy and seemingly somewhat dazed Owen Wilson chasing the woman he’s fallen in love with, and it’s just not funny. Usually I’m hoping these movies will never end, but for the final 30 minutes of the movie I was praying they would just cut it short. Why didn’t Todd Phillips direct this movie?

-On the subject of Owen Wilson, I’m pretty convinced he was doped out of his mind during the filming of this movie. Not that I think that is anything close to a groundbreaking revelation, but I find it noteworthy because Wilson wasn’t doped up in a good way – see Chevy Chase in “Caddyshack” – he was acting, and in many scenes speaking, like a man on a strict regiment of sedatives. Even worse, the majority of his lines sounded canned, and I can definitely count the number of times he made me laugh audibly on one hand.

-But I don’t think that’s entirely his fault. I don’t profess to be a screenwriting expert, but this was one of the most poorly-written movies I’ve come across. I’ve already mentioned this once, but it bears repeating: if Vince Vaughn doesn’t ad-lib a whole host of funny lines, this movie is not worth watching at all. And for the record, I’m only guessing that Vince was ad-libbing most of his good lines. I really have no concrete proof that he was, except that there were so many lines in the movie that completely airballed (like the gem “Please don't take a turn to negative town” – if you’ve seen the movie, you know the one I’m talking about), you would just hope that the movie’s best material is a credit to the comedians, because its worst lines are an embarrassment to everyone involved.

-The last point I’d like to make is that the title of this movie is actually quite misleading. The only truly concentrated wedding crashing that goes on is actually glossed over in unsatisfying montage form at the movie’s beginning. Sure, there’s some funny stuff in that 10 or 15 minutes of montage footage, but I thought this movie was going to be about a couple of dudes who go to a whole bunch of weddings, generally act outrageous and get themselves into absurd situations while uttering inspired pick-up lines like the rare Wilson gem shown on some of the previews: “You know how they say we only use 10 percent of our brains? I think we only use 10 percent of our hearts.” The point is, this movie doesn’t need to be about anything at all, other than wedding crashing. There doesn’t need to be a plot. In fact, it might be better if there wasn’t a plot. But the sad reality is, this movie isn’t so much about the actual crashing of weddings as it is about a couple of guys who happen to have crashed some weddings (which we learn from an unfulfilling montage) and end up at a palacial waterfront manor for a few days during which time – Vince Vaughn’s masterful one-liners aside – they basically just act like a couple of lovestruck, sappy goobers.

Ultimately, “Wedding Crashers” didn’t need to do much for me to like it, but it did the one thing it couldn’t do – it sold out the genre. This was supposed to be a wildly hilarious ride with vile, predictable yet undeniably irresistable humor, tempered only by the necessary but not overbearing evil of a love interest to keep certain members of the audience interested. The problem is, that love interest intruded on the movie's sensibilities – this was not predominantly a care-free ride with a couple of wreckless maniacs, this was a pair of should-have-been wreckless maniacs held frustratingly in check by a tale that was equal parts wild ride and infuriatingly uncompelling love story. Two sworn enemies traveling in completely different directions.

The definition of a failed marriage.


Blogger jimmyrad said...

I just saw it this past weekend, as well. I laughed quite a bit in it, but I left the theater with a hazy feeling of dissapointment that I could not put into words. Your review helps me with that.

I don't think I lean quite as hard to the "horrible" side, but this flick really was one of the all-time botch jobs of what was possibly the greatest premise ever for a comedy.

Vince's chick was pretty hilarious, though. And she's apparently Ali G's woman in real life, which I find unbelievably amusing.

7:51 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger The Bird said...

I used to be the world's biggest Owen Wilson fan. Bottle Rocket continues to be my all-time favorite movie, bar none (which he wrote and starred in). However, after a number of lukewarm performances (I Spy, Starsky, Life Aquatic), I was starting to wonder if he's just lost his edge. I can imagine that becoming an enormous movie star will do that to a guy. And while his performance in Crashers was merely mediocre, he did have some flashes of his former witty self ("why can't we hunt something with talons, like an eagle or an osprey?").

Vince Vaughan was awesome. Any movie that makes me laugh that much has to be considered a success. I've come to realize that comedy is hard to do well.

12:54 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger jdg said...

I loved the Life Aquatic, Josh. So offbeat.

11:36 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger NerdyJock said...

So, after finally perusing your shamelessly self-promoted site, I am responding to the one article that is NOT about baseball: Crash and Burn.

In general, I agree with your assessment of the movie. It was like the retarded love child of Swingers and Meet the Parents, with more raunch than either parent. And speaking of parents, I like to think that any truly good comedy is one I can tell my parents to go see. Because of the excessive raunch factor, Wedding Crashers was certainly NOT that.

I guess that's sort of what bothered me about the flick overall. Instead of giving us something innovative, the way both Swingers and MTP did, Wedding Crashers used the same formula, then ratcheted up the raunch factor in an attempt to one up its predecessors. But, in the end, it felt like something that had been done before, plus a bunch of great new one liners from Vince Vaughn.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go ice my balls and spit blood.


12:14 PM, August 17, 2005  
Anonymous Jack said...

Boooooo --- don't over analyze. Wedding Crashers was funny! Christopher Walken is fantastic, he'd make anything good and there were some very funny lines. The first half of the movie was fantastic. And the great cameo at the end -- Overall, you're way to harsh.

3:26 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger The OCC said...

"The first half of the movie was fantastic" -- well, I don't know about fantastic, Jack, but I'll give you funny. But what the hell about the second half? It doesn't have to be the greatest comedy ever, but why-oh-why the dreadful descent into one of the worst love stories ever told? Tell me you weren't hoping that movie would end at once during the last 30 minutes and I'll call you a liar. It could have been so, so much better, and it's precisely for that reason that I hated it.

Anders -- good day to you, sir. And good to see you logged on. Perhaps I shall have to write film reviews more often...

6:16 PM, August 17, 2005  
Anonymous Hank said...

You speak truth. Like you, I wasn't able to see the movie until last weekend, and had listened to most of friends talking about how hilarious it was. One guy even said it was the funniest movie he had seen in years, a comment which immediately put me on the defensive. There were funny moments, but overall I'd have to say it was just okay.

And sadly for me, my clever friends even spoiled the cameo for me, referring to him as "Cameo Guy" but then mentioning which of his previous movies they had liked and not liked. So I didn't even get the pleasure of the surprize.

2:08 PM, August 19, 2005  
Blogger The OCC said...

Cameo was ruined for me also, Hank. By that point I was already kind of despondent anyway.

5:29 PM, August 19, 2005  
Blogger jmals said...

I actually left the theater to take a piss, which may be a worse comment than walking out all together, but I would have prefered to urinate on the screen.

6:51 PM, August 23, 2005  
Blogger elijah the prophet said...

does that really count as a surprise cameo? i mean these guys are all incestuous and cameo in each others movies all the time. i would have been more surprised if there wasnt a cameo by one of their gang.

5:41 PM, August 25, 2005  

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