Jeremy: "Someday you'll look back on all this and laugh and say we were young and stupid." John: "We're not THAT young." And with these prophetic words divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn)--lifelong friends whose hobby it is to crash weddings get laid and never look back--embark on a journey of self-discovery. Well maybe not a journey exactly more like a weekend of debauchery. And maybe not self-discovery per se more a realization falling in love isn't such a bad thing. It all starts when the charismatic and charming duo crash the social event of the year the wedding of Treasury Secretary William Cleary's (Christopher Walken) daughter. They stick to the Crashers Code at first setting their sights on two bridesmaids Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher) Cleary creating clever back stories and becoming the hit of the lavish party. But while Jeremy is going about business as usual with the curiously randy Gloria John is uncharacteristically falling hard and fast for the whip-smart and beautiful Claire. John eventually persuades a resistant Jeremy to bend the crashing rules and accept an invitation to an extended weekend party at the Cleary family compound. Uh oh. Once at the palatial waterfront estate the dysfunctional members of the Cleary family put the guys through the wringer. It would be enough to send any confirmed bachelor running--except John really likes Claire and wants to make it work. And Jeremy as he tells John just wants to "ice my balls and spit up blood."
There must be some kind of osmosis thing that happens when the Frat Packers mix it up. Of course I'm talking about the comedic talents of Vaughn Wilson his brother Luke Wilson Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell who just keep churning out one hilarious film--Old School Dodgeball Starsky & Hutch--after another in various tag-team combinations. The Wedding Crashers is no exception. Although it's actually Vaughn and Wilson's first real screen time together (if you don't count Starsky & Hutch) you'd swear they've been working together for years making them the best Frat Pack combo yet. Their diverse comedy styles--Vaughn's rapid-fire delivery Wilson's slow burn--complement each other perfectly. Like Vaughn's character explains in Swingers these guys are "in the rated-R movie…the guy[s] you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where [they] are coming from." Vaughn and Wilson also share the wealth with their supporting cast. The lovely McAdams (Mean Girls The Notebook) continues to show her range as Claire and she very sweetly holds her own amidst the calamity. Walken is also particularly entertaining as the elder Cleary who's funny without ever trying to be. But the true scene stealer is Aussie actress Fisher (Scooby-Doo) as the youngest Cleary daughter an obsessive "Stage 5" clinger and nymphomaniac. "Don't ever leave me 'cause I'd find you!" she giggles to Jeremy with a wild look in her eyes. Yikes. Fisher goes full tilt playing the one woman who can truly give Jeremy a taste of his own medicine. Wild and wacky stuff.
Director David Dobkin likes to try his hand at different genres. He first worked with Vince Vaughn in the serious-minded serial killer flick Clay Pigeons and then worked with Owen Wilson in the action-packed but lighthearted sequel Shanghai Knights. Now Dobkin has got the both of them in a balls-out comedy--and handles the chores with aplomb even if all the director has to do is turn on the camera and point it at his stars. From the moment we see Jeremy and John crashing a variety of ethnic weddings (Jewish Hindu Chinese) to their escapades at the Cleary home Wedding Crashers will simply split your sides and make you spit out your Coke. You're probably going to see it a few more times just so you can pick up stuff you might have missed while laughing so hard. The only problem is how to end it. Granted we are dealing with in essence a romantic comedy so you know there's got to be some sort of happy resolution. We'll accept that. But the film seems to lose some steam and turns predictable once the guys leave the Clearys. The last 10 minutes--save for a memorable cameo from a fellow Frat Packer (and I won't tell you who)--drag on a bit. Still it doesn't completely take away from the good time you've been having.
Shanghai Knights is really just a thinly veiled plot device to a) show more of Jackie Chan's amazing abilities; b) show the chemistry between Chan and Owen Wilson and c) show Chan in yet another fish-out-of-water situation. As a sequel with all the "right stuff" already in place Knights apparently doesn't need an intriguing story. Starting where Shanghai Noon left off Chon Wang (Chan) is living large in 1800s American Wild West. Yet when Chon learns his estranged father the Keeper of the Imperial Seal has been murdered in China's Forbidden City and the seal stolen he immediately vows revenge. To get to the killers who have escaped to London Chon reluctantly reteams with his old partner the incompetent Roy O'Bannon (Wilson). Once in England they run into Chon's sister Lin (Fann Wong) who has had the same vengeful idea as her brother (and has the same skills). Much to Chon's chagrin Roy is quickly smitten with the beautiful Lin who has uncovered a plot to kill Queen Victoria and the royal family but has trouble convincing the authorities since the instigator of the evil plan is Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen) seventh in line to the throne (hence why he wants them killed off). Not good. With the help of a kindly Scotland Yard Inspector and a 10-year-old street urchin Chon kicks Britain in the pants as he attempts to avenge his father's death--and keep the romance-minded Roy away from his sister.
The Chan/Wilson comic duo works well once again. Chan's easygoing unassuming style matches well with Wilson's smarminess. Wilson seems to have become one of those actors-for-hire saying yes to just about anything offered to him (why else would he have done I Spy?) ; still we know he has the goods when he turns in hysterical performances in quirk-fests such as The Royal Tenenbaums. There definitely is something special to his pairing with Chan who fits into Hollywood's mainstream like a glove. The only way to aptly describe his abilities is to compare him to Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly who could dance with anything from a woman to a hat rack and make it look so smooth. Granted Chan is getting a little long in the tooth (rumor has it he didn't perform all the stunts) but the combination of martial arts and Chinese acrobatics he displays is stupefying. Wong handles herself very well getting in a few swift mean kicks of her own. As well baddies Gillen and real-life martial arts master Donnie Yen who plays a Chinese rebel aligning himself with Rathbone snarl with the best of them. It is intriguing to see Yen and Chan go at it in their very different yet mesmerizing styles.
Doing a sequel to Shanghai Noon was a very smart move. Why not pair up these two likable heroes again throw them in a different adventure and watch the sparks fly? It's the kind of repeat performance that doesn't require much attention to detail and director David Dobkin (Clay Pigeons) shouldn't feel the need to top Knights' predecessor. Each action sequence is spectacular and the interim goofiness sustains the time when Chan can do his stuff again. Still it would be nice to have at least some semblance of glue to hold the movie together. It's all over the place trying to pack in as much fighting as possible together with funny awkward moments with Chon and Roy as well as playing with the history of London in the 1800s. For example the kindly Scotland Yard detective who helps them is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before he starts writing his Sherlock Holmes series (Roy comes up with the pseudonym) and the street urchin so impressed with Chon's moves is a young Charlie Chaplin. Ah very clever. At least Lin gets to kick Jack the Ripper's butt. Oh who are we kidding? The film's fun and it's going to make big bucks. Who cares about a story?