Wedding Crashers (2005)
December 18, 2023 12:27 PM - Subscribe

John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, a pair of committed womanizers who sneak into weddings to take advantage of the romantic tinge in the air, find themselves at odds with one another when John meets and falls for Claire Cleary.

Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) and John (Owen Wilson) are divorce mediators who spend their free time crashing wedding receptions. For the irrepressible duo, there are few better ways to drink for free and bed vulnerable women. So when Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary (Christopher Walken) announces the wedding of his daughter, the pair make it their mission to crash the high-profile event. But their game hits a bump in the road when John locks eyes with bridesmaid Claire (Rachel McAdams).

Kimberley Jones: Wilson and Vaughn play John Beckwith and Jeremy Klein, lifelong friends and partners in a D.C.-based divorce mediation firm. Given their profession, it’s no shock that they’re both a little leery of love. They choose instead to live in perpetual playboyland, and the wedding season is like Christmas in July for them. But all their rules are broken (and yes, they have a set of rules, some of them very funny) when they crash a high-profile politico wedding. John falls for the maid of honor, Claire Cleary (McAdams), while Jeremy falls into a Fatal Attraction-like dalliance with Claire’s nutjob sister, Gloria (Fisher). The plot does backflips to get the two men stranded on the Cleary family’s Kennedy-esque island compound – just one in a string of needling logistical leaps. Kookiness ensues, but it’s mostly cookie-cutter stuff – Bob Fisher and Steve Faber’s script boasts old chestnuts like diarrhea, a salty gramma, and a hunting trip gone awry. Vaughn, in a role just once-removed from his breakout performance in Swingers, most consistently brings the laughs with his frequent motor-mouth monologues that are a riot of sex jokes and non sequiturs (watch where he goes with maple syrup). But Wilson, playing straight man, is a dud, badly straddling the twin demands of his part: sleaze and sincerity. Sleaze mostly wins out.

Stella Papamichael: One mishap leads to another provoking the kind of laughs that'll leave your jaw on the floor (a wild-eyed Gloria 'pleasuring' Jeremy under the family dinner table is particularly hilarious). However, Dobkin also proves a bit of a tease by introducing a couple of tantalising subplots that lead nowhere. For instance, Claire's mother (Jane Seymour) makes a brazen attempt to seduce John, but this is then quickly brushed aside. Towards the end of the film so many complications prove a little too hot for Dobkin to handle, but side-splitting support from Will Ferrell more than makes up for it. Indeed it's the charm of these rogues that guarantees you'll go all the way.

Lizzie Logan: At this point, John is a little bit of an asshole for going after a girl with a boyfriend, but Sack is the bigger asshole, so we’re allowed to root for John. Jeremy is a little bit of an asshole for lying to get Gloria into bed (or into sand, as the case may be), but Gloria’s crazy, so we’re allowed to laugh at it. Romantic comedies almost always have an element of deception somewhere in there: “You were using me to win a bet!” “You’re disguised as your own twin brother!” “Hey, waitaminute, who is this guy Ernest everyone keeps mentioning?”

It’s also at this point that things get…problematic. The Cleary family employs a butler, the only Black character in the whole movie, who exists just to tell the white characters where the other white characters are, so, trope number one. The youngest Cleary is Todd, a mentally unstable artist who is also gay and, thanks to his repressed upbringing (I guess), a predatory freak. The wife of Secretary Cleary, played by Jane Seymour, is an aggressive cougar who exposes herself to John on his first night at the house. The grandmother is homophobic toward her own grandson and, weirdly, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; “rug muncher” gets thrown around at the dinner table. Some of this gets called out as uncool, some of it doesn’t. All of it is played for laughs and all of it comes across as brutally hack today.

None of it, though, is as full-body-cringe-inducing as the rape. Gloria rapes Jeremy. She sneaks into his bedroom, ties him to the bedposts, stuffs a sock in his mouth, places duct tape over his lips, and climbs on top of him. The next time we see him, he is still tied up, though un-gagged, and Todd has crawled into his bed to…be gay at him for a couple minutes. How do I know for sure that Gloria got with Jeremy, without getting consent, in between the scenes? Because Jeremy says so the next morning. He literally uses the word rape to describe his night to John. Which is what is so frustrating about all the problematic elements of this movie. It’s like, the filmmakers aren’t so dense that they are in the “women can’t assault men” camp. They get that the incident is wrong, and that Jeremy is traumatized (“I felt like Jodie Foster in The Accused”). He even mentions going back to DC and unpacking it with his therapist. But while the filmmakers acknowledge all of this, they still present the whole encounter like a goof, which actually makes it worse. You know better! So do better!

posted by Carillon (4 comments total)
I remember liking this movie a lot when it came out, mainly on the strength of Wilson and Vaunghs friendship. It might have been the first time I heard two straight men say they love each other on screen in fact. But revisiting there is definitely a lot that I don't love. It's a movie that I know well enough that I leave the room when I know certain scenes are coming because I can viscerally feel the cringe. That said what works, works well, and there is still a lot of laughs.
posted by Carillon at 12:30 PM on December 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

My partner and I just watched this, and it made 2005 seem like a really long time ago. The problematic aspects called out in Logan's review are really awful by today's standards, and feel like something one would expect in a movie from the 80s.

It's peak Vince Vaughn though. While I think we're supposed to be pulling for John, I definitely had a lot more feeling for Jeremy's frustration and trauma, partly because of how severe it was, but mostly on the strength of Vaughn's performance.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:28 AM on December 19, 2023

It was fair.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 7:51 AM on December 19, 2023

"Obviously if you're watching a scene with a woman tied to a bed while a man forces sex on her, the final act of that movie will involve said man getting shot in the face by Bruce Willis. If, on the other hand, it's a man being tied down and forced into sex by a pretty lady, well, you're watching a wacky romantic comedy." — C. Coville
posted by Pachylad at 8:16 PM on December 19, 2023

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