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Wedding Crashers: Uncorked Edition

Wedding Crashers (2005) gets off the launch-pad like a NASA rocket. After a brief introduction wherein we meet John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn), two Washington D.C.-based divorce-mediation counselors, we learn that the two bachelors have a Bunburying hobby that would put Oscar Wilde to shame: They crash weddings in the hopes of getting lonely, emotionally taut women into the sack. And from that setup, director David Dobkin lets slip the dogs of war — adopting nommes de guerre, John and Jeremy invade a series of nuptials during an extended sequence with elliptical edits that become almost imperceptibly faster, passing through all manner of ceremonies (Jewish, Indian, Irish, Korean) to the reception-party funk of K.C. and the Sunshine Band and The Isley Brothers, and finally culminating in a montage of bare-breasted women and champagne-bottle ejaculations. Those enticed into the theater based on the very funny teaser trailer might suspect that this would be Wedding Crashers' sole territory — were such the case, it likely would have succeeded based on the presence of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn alone. However, scenarists Steve Faber and Bob Fisher fill two hours with a three-act plot that's consistently amusing, even though it suffers diminishing returns. The story proper gets underway when our lads decide to stage the biggest crash in history: a high-society affair featuring the family of Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary (Christopher Walken), an economist whom biz-school grad John has admired for years. John even manages to strike up an acquaintance with Cleary, although he finds himself more smitten with his middle daughter, Claire (Rachel McAdams). Looking for any opportunity to get more time with her, he's pleasantly surprised to find that Jeremy's hooked up with the youngest Cleary daughter, Gloria (Isla Fisher) — although Jeremy's a bit less enthused, since she appears to be a borderline psychotic-obsessive. The two accept an invitation to the Cleary mansion for a weekend getaway. But while John still hopes to win over Claire, he still has her boorish fiancé Zack (Bradley Cooper) to contend with.

Wedding Crashers' distinct three-act setup does a pleasant job of offering audiences more than they may have expected going in. The only problem with it is that each successive plot arc is somewhat less engaging than what preceded it. The opening sequence, featuring the crashing montage and the Cleary wedding, is where the material is sharpest: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are virtually inseparable, and eavesdropping on their shameless womanizing is caddish fun — rarely are comedies so gleefully intoxicating as Crashers is out of the gate, boldly abandoning plot and substituting it with little more than wit, charisma, and anarchy. The middle third removes John and Jeremy to the Cleary estate, where "situations" develop: Secretary Cleary's wife Kathleen (Jane Seymour) hits on John, Jeremy does his best to avoid Gloria, John copes with Zack's relentless competitive streak, etc. The many sequences have their amusing moments (in particular a game of touch football), but at times it also feels forced, crossed somewhere between a bawdy drawing-room stage play and a third-rate National Lampoon release — one has to wonder how we got from a dewy-eyed Owen Wilson telling a woman "I think we only use ten percent of our hearts" to Vince Vaughn taking a load of birdshot in the ass (ha-ha… ha). As for the final third, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Wedding Crashers would turn into a rom-com, complete with awkward public declarations of love. It would be hard for any title to cross $200 million without a little bit of redeeming, slightly odoriferous sentiment. What holds the whole thing together despite this is Vince Vaughn. Not that Owen Wilson doesn't deserve his propers (he does), but for too much of the movie his laid-back charm seems caught in a headlock, particularly after John falls for Claire. Vaughn, on the other hand, proves what his fans have known for some time: Be it in supporting work (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) or on the marquee (Old School), his inimitable brand of motormouth straight-talk is like maple syrup. It makes everything better.

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New Line's Platinum Series release of Wedding Crashers: Uncorked Edition offers a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Both the theatrical and "Uncorked" cuts are on board, the latter extending the film by about seven minutes (although it seems doubtful the new material would lose the film its R-rating). Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn chime in on a commentary track, while director David Dobkin offers a second track solo. Four deleted scenes include a "play all" option. Two featurettes also are on board, "Event Planning" (11 min.) and "The Rules" (7 min.). For serious fans of the film, the entire rules of wedding crashing fill 24 screens (one of the best being "Breakfast is for closers"). Theatrical and teaser trailer, DVD-ROM content, keep-case.

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