John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) are two divorce mediators who share an interesting hobby: they love to crash weddings. Swallowing the atmosphere, cake, and women whole as they parade around any celebration they can get into, the duo finds the crash of the century in the marriage of a politician's (Christopher Walken) daughter. When John takes an unexpected liking to a bridesmaid named Claire (Rachel McAdams, "The Notebook"), he drags Jeremy to her family's summer house for the weekend, where the deception and miscommunication starts to pile high, riling up mean boyfriends (Bradley Cooper), smitten fellow bridesmaids (a perfectly goofy Isla Fisher), and Jeremy's tolerance for catastrophe.
Working distantly together in a comedy troupe (with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Will Ferrell) that I'm shocked hasn't been given a name yet, "Wedding Crashers" (IMDb listing) marks the first co-starring collaboration between Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. These two comic dynamos were born to play with each other, and "Crashers" is a great vehicle to let them shine. That is, when it wants to be funny.
"Crashers" has a unique director behind it in David Dobkin, Vaughn's partner-in-crime for 1998's underrated serial killer comedy, "Clay Pigeons." Dobkin doesn't come to "Crashers" with an innate knowledge of what makes Wilson and Vaughn tick, and he is content to merely run the camera in front of these two as they burst through their shtick, hoping to snag some gems in the process. For most of the film, this process works. "Crashers" is achingly hilarious, trampling through wedding cliches and lothario routines with an ease that can only come from the two leads. Agreeably R-rated, "Crashers" is a lewd creation that gets a real charge out of sex jokes and sticking Vaughn into any uncomfortable sexual or social situation Dobkin and the screenplay can find for his character. And that's all you need, really. Wilson and Vaughn are razor sharp, and between their instinctive chemistry and Vaughn's heaven-sent improvisational skills, they take the script to places it only dreamt about before. However, somewhere in the mix, Dobkin becomes scared. The result is that "Crashers" takes a baton to the knees.
Running an astounding two hours in length, "Crashers" starts to feel heavy in the third act, where the jokes suddenly halt and Dobkin's unreal belief that the audience is way into these characters takes over. The "Crashers" screenplay sticks closely to cliched structure, and it's disappointing to see Dobkin afraid to wander too far from it. The film is so confident and alive when it just wants to tickle the funny bone, yet feels heavy and labored when it returns to the plight of Claire and John, even allowing real drama to enter into the equation. That just isn't right. A film of this comedic caliber shouldn't be stopping to pluck heartstrings. In the end, Dobkin breaks the momentum completely, and he loses the hilarity that was once as easy as a snap of the fingers.
"Wedding Crashers" doesn't exactly die in the end. The lively performances from Rachel McAdams (a true talent in the making) and Isla Fisher compliment Vaughn and Wilson terrifically. And, for the fans, there's even a fun cameo to keep the audience alert. While the absence of a comedic home run is felt here, that doesn't prevent "Wedding Crashers" from having moments of unbelievable fun and hilarity. Dobkin tries hard to sour it, but you can almost never go wrong with the sight of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn together, hitting on wedding guests and doing their best to out-funny each other.
Filmfodder Grade: B+