Monday, August 15, 2005

I saw "The Wedding Crashers" the other night. It was pretty good. The interesting thing is, the quality is all in the execution, not one bit in the plot. The story is, two best friends (Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn) who make sixteen-year-olds look mature and sophisticated crash weddings serially to pick up women in the wonderfully romantic atmosphere. They go to one last wedding, get in way over their head, get caught in their ridiculous lies, fall head-over-heels for a girl in the bride's family, and finally learn A Valuable Life Lesson about love straight out of "Not Another Teen Movie". Oh, and how could I forget the absolutely perfect girl dating a good-looking guy who is secretly a pushy, violent asshole.

So, an overdone plot, and dumb to me. It seemed like every third episode of prime time sitcoms - "Frasier" was the worst I can remember about this, but they all did it sometimes - revolved around someone telling a story to cover their ass or impress someone, or else someone misinterpreting a completely innocent statement, and the rest of the story was nothing but awkward lies and supposedly comical misunderstandings until someone finally apologized. Oh, wait - "Meet the Parents," Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro, is probably the best example of all. Oh, ha ha ha, the septic tank overflowed and now Ben Stiller has to deny flushing the defective toilet. Ooo, he's so desperate to impress his girlfriend's dad that he tries to pass off a cat from the homeless shelter as the dad's missing pet. Just hilarious.

But "The Wedding Crashers" gets the formulaic plot right, in a lot of little ways. When Vince Vaughn lies desperately to cover his ass, it's hilarious because he actually deserves the trouble he's fleeing. And the blue-blooded family that sired the female leads is easily fucked up and vindictive enough to deserve Wilson and Vaughn. Owen Wilson's massive character growth doesn't happen overnight, it takes months, and you get hints from the very beginning that the potential is there. (That might sound like spoilers, but come on, it's still a Hollywood movie - of course the guy on the movie posters is going to get the girl.) His love interest is actually likeable for something more than a pretty face, a cute girlish giggle, and/or a tomboy-just-waiting-to-discover-her-feminine-side personality. You've got good actors - Christopher Walken, (and I really, really hope that site isn't a joke) Jane Seymour and a couple others - in relatively minor roles, and besides all the obvious positive effects of that, it makes it seem like the whole family and setting is actually important rather than just being a backdrop for the male leads with comedy backgrounds to bumble through.

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