There's a scene in Wedding Crashers where an actor has the job of pulling off a gurning comedy orgasm in a stuffy social situation without anyone noticing. Read that back and picture it in your head. Now make the actor Adam Sandler. Or Chris Rock.
Luckily, it's Vince Vaughn, and because it's Vince Vaughn, the moment is utterly nailed as one of the year's comic highlights when it could so easily have inspired sphincter spasms.
There's a lot here that could equally fall flaccid without Vaughn or Wilson.It takes a while to adjust to the clash of styles, with Vaughn's jabbering lechery ("I can't help it. I'm a cocksman!") initially smothering Wilson's easy charm. But the tone soon settles into a bickering buddy version of the Swingers wise guy/nice guy routine: Vaughn the strutting predator, Wilson the cuddly bear with non-threatening hair.
Vaughn is a rare breed: old-school matinee-idol style and guile with the soul of a six-year-old. He can do it all: boysy bonding, leery magnetism, jokes, sulks, motormouth power-yak and, yes, the kind of do-or-die-a-death slapstick that's right on the edge of funny-stupid and stupid-stupid (see the orgasm bit). In classic double-act style, he rolls with all the physical blows while Wilson shoulders the heartbreak and keeps focus on the point of it all: even the hardest core hedonist has a party-by date.
Wedding Crashers is a high hit-rate parade of comic set-pieces powered by a surprisingly sweary script and some terrifically committed support. Rachel McAdams, a highlight of last year's Mean Girls, sparkles as Wilson's wake-up-call wondergirl. Vivacious, vulnerable and knowing enough to keep the story chugging through the cheesier moments. Equally, Isla Fisher vamps it up as a potentially fatal femme - or, as Jeremy puts it, "a Stage 5 clinger". You won't see a more tender toilet lust scene all year.
There are by-numbers sections where Dobkin wheels in a nice Coldplay tune for faux-feeling and once or twice the film teeters, tipsy on its own idea-rush. But the winning Wilson/Vaughn likeable cad act always steadies the dips. Two solid hours of this ensemble, knockabout stuff is a big ask, but Wedding Crashers rarely feels overstretched and the relentless pace fuzzes over the filler.
It's this year's DodgeBall. Crude not crass, daft not dumb, goofy not gormless... Despite a few glaring grumps (Walken faxes it in, Ferrell is a third act prop-up), Wilson and Vaughn deliver more acting class and puppy-dog enthusiasm than the material probably deserves. And how can you not love a film that introduces the sexual concept of "the motor boat"?
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Wilson twinkles, Vaughn dazzles. Funny and feisty enough for frat-pack loons but with a soft enough centre for the rom-com crowd.