WEDDING CRASHERS

R

-By Doris Toumarkine


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Wedding Crashers, a jaunty pileup of familiar good-ole-bad-boy fun and irreverence, should give New Line much to celebrate. That the film succeeds on its own modest terms and in its time-tested way has most to do with the happy couple at the center of the festivities: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as John and Jeremy, two D.C.-based legal mediators and best pals who crash weddings and pluck freebies, including one-night stands, so that they can stay irresponsible, lustily fulfilled laddies for life. The guys play by a set of carefully laid-out rules devised by their absent mentor Chaz, a cad who materializes in later frames and provides the star-cameo surprise that is yet another staple of the summer bad-boy comedies.

Filmgoers will suspect immediately that by film's end both boys will have mended their ways. Such salvation may come from Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher), the two daughters of rich and powerful Secretary of Treasury Cleary (Christopher Walken), whom John and Jeremy meet and charm at a wedding they have no business-except their own-attending.

Jeremy loses no time having his way with Gloria, initially proclaiming herself a just-violated virgin. In no time, she shows her true self, emerging as the slutty, oversexed young vixen that films like Wedding Crashers embrace. The laundry list also allows those keeping score to check off Claire as the good daughter who seriously clicks with John, more sensitive than incurable playboy pal Jeremy. Of course, there's a serious roadblock to Claire's heart.

Since John needs an obstacle to true love now that he has found it and as the film needs its villain, Claire is already the girlfriend of Sack Lodge (Bradley Cooper), the hypocritical environmentalist and hunting-fanatic D.C. power player and all-round macho jerk who, also with blueblood lineage, has endeared himself to Secretary Cleary.
All these characters and more-after John and Jeremy have passed themselves off as distant family members at a wedding-convene at the sprawling Cleary estate in nearby Maryland for a long, sunny weekend of fun as only the super-rich, powerful and seriously dysfunctional can enjoy it.

Also on hand is mean, foul-mouthed granny Mary Cleary (Ellen Albertini Dow), who rants on in her offensive vernacular about Eleanor Roosevelt being a lesbian, and Todd Cleary (Keir O'Donnell), the black-sheep, artistic son who is gay and hot for Jeremy. Add the kickers of Cleary's sex-starved wife Kathleen (Jane Seymour), who puts serious moves on Jeremy, and the film's mean depictions of gays and females that require closed eyes and ears and open minds, and Wedding Crashers functions as soothingly predictable and seasonably correct as a poolside cocktail.

Wilson and Vaughn, never playing it above the material, gamely surrender to all the naughtiness, silliness and sheer fun at hand. The usually menacing Christopher Walken, radiating, "Oh, could I do some damage here," never gets to. His neutral role of the rich and powerful Secretary of the Treasury and paterfamilias has him wear a heart rather than dollar signs or a warning sticker on his sleeve.

Audiences accepting this far-from-exclusive invitation and its by-the-rulebook program will have a good time and word will spread that this is a must-attend event.

-Doris Toumarkine


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