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Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006 04:33 pm

Crashing weddings

We need more movies to expose weddings as the sham they really are

Some wedding pictures aren’t worth remembering, but people swarm down on them like locusts. Something about the subject strikes a chord with people. Wedding Crashers took off into the box-office stratosphere, far beyond the realm of most comedies, and it isn’t that good. I was hard pressed to find a moment that was remotely funny. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star as aging playboys who crash weddings to pick up and bed women. How could such a great idea fail? The lackluster script hindered the talents of the two stars. Vaughn’s
misogynous soliloquies lack the penetrating realism he demonstrated in
Swingers (1996). Wedding Crashers falls prey to predictable sappiness when Wilson spots the girl of his dreams (Rachel McAdams), thus shifting the story to automatic pilot. I have a theory about why movies like this succeed. If the characters on the screen are having a good time, the audience members delude themselves into thinking that they’re also having a good time. I didn’t. Wedding Crashers isn’t as bad as the excruciatingly awful My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), but there are much better films about the human race’s most garish ritual. The Wedding Singer (1998) is too formulaic for its own good, but it is much funnier than Wedding Crashers. Adam Sandler’s pathetic persona is appropriate here for a lonely guy who was dumped at the altar. He, of course, falls for a sweet waitress (Drew Barrymore) with a cretinous boyfriend, and if you can’t guess the rest, then seek help. The best moment is Sandler’s musical tirade against his ex-girlfriend. The film could have used a little more of that vitriol. Director P.J. Hogan deserves the crown as the king of wedding movies. He made the corrosive Muriel’s Wedding (1994) in his native Australia. I included this gem recently as a dark film about dysfunctional families, and its view on weddings is no less cynical. Muriel is so obsessed with having a wedding that she will gladly accept one that is a sham. Hogan kicked off his Hollywood career with the widely misunderstood My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997). Casting Julia Roberts in the lead automatically sets off schmaltz detectors everywhere, but this film defies expectations. Roberts realizes that she is in love with her best friend (Dermot Mulroney) when he announces his engagement to a nice girl (Cameron Diaz). Roberts here is not the nice girl, and she embarks on a quest to sabotage the wedding. When she declares that she is the bad guy, she isn’t kidding. We need more movies to expose weddings as the sham they really are.
New releases on DVD on Tuesday (Feb. 28): Pride and Prejudice, The Ice Harvest, Where the Truth Lies, and Yours, Mine and Ours.


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