Tuesday, July 26, 2005


"It's Not An Important Movie...But It's Fun"

An instant judgment for this fine cinematic fare.

No, that wasn't me saying that -- though I agree with that assessment from 60-something lady who had just gotten out of the 11:20 a.m. screening this morning (I'm officially on vacation from the day job this week). She was chatting -- rather loudly -- on a payphone in the theater lobby. Obviously referring to stars Vince Vaugh and Owen Wilson she said to the person on the other end, "I just love those guys."

Now, Wedding Crashers is an R-movie that certainly earns its rating: bare breasts, inappropriate language, casual and kinky sex and so forth. Not for kids (though I thought I noticed a couple of teenagers in there). Sure, there are scenes in seriously bad taste -- the movie's web-site was forced to take down the print-your-own-Purple-Hearts page after veterans and some congressmen complained. Of course, I'm not sure that Jewish viewers might have been thrilled with their passing themselves off as members of the tribe to infiltrate at least one wedding. But, that's the point, the movie seems unafraid of possibly offending someone -- which is what makes it funny. One U.S. senator has been chastised for appearing in the movie. He responded to his critics in, IMHO, an appropriately dismissive manner. (One mild criticism: In the early part of the film where the Wilson and Vaughn rogues crash various weddings, the audience sees Irish, Italian, Jewish and Indian families represented -- how come no black or Latino ceremonies were bum-rushed? A rather disappointing omission -- they certainly could have passed themselves off as friends, if not relatives.)

The fact that an older lady enjoyed what is on its surface, a rather sophomoric production aimed at the teen/20s/30s cohort, says one thing: This is a well-crafted, well-written and just plain funny movie (the different quirks of the various members of the Cleary clan make for some truly gut-busting classic comedy. Fans of Eleanor Roosevelt should be wary about going to this movie. More, I cannot say).

It says something that last weekend's box-office take for WC was only off 23 percent from its opening take. Given how most summer movies plunge 50 percent or more in the second week, it says that this one has great word-of-mouth and a fair bit of repeat business, for which, at least one columnist already suggests that his teen-age sons are partly responsible.

Conversely, the successful mixture of raunchy fun with a heart and likeable characters (the same menu that made the first American Pie a critical and box-office hit) also provides a lesson why horror movies are bombing this year.

As a friend of mine asked recently, "Is the constant pessimism finally getting to everyone?" I think so. There are so many real-life terrifying events of late that folks don't want to be reminded of it in a movie house. That may be another reason why Fantastic Four, despite poor-to-middlin' reviews blew away everyone's predictions in ticket sales. Yes, it has an edge of sadness -- particularly with The Thing -- but it is ultimately a feel-good popcorn flick.

Just like Wedding Crashers.

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