Let’s take a closer look at the movie Wedding Crashers and nitpick just a little bit. It came along in the golden age of the Frat Pack – the group of comedic actors consisting of Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Luke Wilson. Wedding Crashers was a perfect addition to the early 2000’s lineup of Meet the Parents, Old School, Dodgeball, Anchorman, and Starsky & Hutch. I like to look at this group of guys as the ones who helped blaze a trail for Judd Apatow-endorsed guys like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segal, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson (there are others I could mention but you get my point.) Wedding Crashers was the perfect movie for the summer of 2005. But, as age and experience would have it, it plays a little different in 2018. Looking at it as an adult, it really is the story of two seriously stunted sociopaths with a pathological obsession with lying.
John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, both in their mid to late thirties, go to serious lengths to attend strangers’ weddings with different aliases complete with extensive back stories. They assume different heritages, religions, and social customs; research the bridal party for loopholes so they may easier insert themselves as obscure relatives; have actual rules that they recite to prevent others from discovering their motives; and have a pre-determined time of year to execute their plans (“It’s wedding season!” which we’ll make an educated guess is the summer season.) And all of this thorough preparation and shady moonlighting is simply because . . . they want to get laid. That’s pretty much it. That’s what gets them off. And it’s never really given its due just how absolutely batshit that behavior is for grown ass men. At least when Dennis Reynolds does it on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia it’s firmly acknowledged.
John and Jeremy obviously seem to be doing well financially, living in the Washington D.C. area as divorce mediators, which could explain why they choose to exploit weddings for cheap sexual gains without sticking around for the marital disasters that could follow – they’ve witnessed love and marriages disintegrate. Both are pretty charming guys; quick with jokes, usable situational anecdotes, and decent dance moves. Those qualities alone should be enough for guys to meet women either for a harmless, casual romance or perhaps loving relationships. But apparently not. Jeremy’s insane rant about why he doesn’t want to date seems fine until you realize he’d rather spend every weekend for three months stalking strangers, lying about his identity, and running the risk of being exposed as a sexual predator. How quirky!
The movie’s taglines have a hard time selling you on the idea that this is all normal: “Life’s a party. Crash it.” If your life is a party that you’re not even invited to so you have to crash it, then maybe your life is terrible. There definitely seems to be some deep-rooted psychological torment going on with these two that gets glossed over (Jeremy’s refusal for conventional dating and John’s tragic orphaned upbringing.) Maybe their lives really are terrible and we just only see the contrived fun bits. The second tagline is lazy as all hell: “They’re just a couple of guys who wanna have fun.” That just sounds like their defense attorney was burnt out in their inevitable lawsuit.
“Look your honor, they’re just two guys who wanna have fun.”
“But your Honor. Life’s a party. Ya gotta crash it.”
“Wow, good point. Not guilty. Case dismissed.”
The other taglines read like straight up warnings as if predators are on the loose:
“On July 15th, they’re coming to your wedding . . . with or without invitations.”
“Hide Your Bridesmaids.”
The movie’s different synopses offered on IMDb are incredibly generous in describing the plot. They use cute phrasings, describing wedding crashing as a “truly unique springtime hobby” and John and Jeremy as “a pair of committed womanizers who sneak into weddings to take advantage of the romantic tinge in the air.” Yikes, we really weren’t asking any questions in 2005, huh?
For those who remember, there were posters with the Wedding Crashers rules, which were no doubt hung in every Broski & Broheim dorm room in the mid to late 2000s. Some of the rules are direct quotes from the movie and some seem like they were written by the unfunniest kid in high school. Out of fifty total rules, here are five of the most absurd ones.
- #10 – “Invitations are for pussies.” Cool rule, bro.
- #19 – “Toast in the native tongue . . . if you have practiced the toast.” Why are these guys giving toasts at strangers’ weddings? You can make actual friends and give toasts at their weddings with half the effort.
- #21 – “Make sure she’s 18.” Seems like this should be number one all things considered. They got twenty rules down before considering statutory rape?
- #26 – “Of course you love her.” This one is definitely the unfunny high school kid rule because no grown woman whom you just met will say, “I love you.” I don’t care how well you dance.
- #44 – “Bring fake war medals.” Aaaand the cycle of sociopathic behavior comes full circle with pretending to be a war hero, complete with a fabricated back story, to impress strangers.
Now to be fair, John, Owen Wilson’s character, does have obvious conflictions about the creepy life he’s chosen. You can tell by his sad, pensive face after banging a woman whose name he’d forgotten. Aw, poor guy. He mentions his trepidations to his friend Jeremy, Vince Vaughn’s character early on. “You don’t think we’re being – I don’t want to say ‘sleazy’ because that’s not the right word” – actually, ‘sleazy’ sums it up pretty well – “but a little irresponsible?” Jeremy responds with, “One day you’ll look back at all of this and laugh, say we were young and stupid.” To which John responds, “We’re not that young.” No shit, guy: you’re 36.
John brings up to Jeremy that the way he constantly cites the rules of wedding crashing makes it sound like a cult started by Chazz Reinhold (perhaps the greatest cameo in comedy history by Will Ferrell whose character drives the ultimate point home of just how psychotic they are.) And John is right because this shit is creepy even if you’re in your mid-twenties, let alone pushing fucking forty. Crashing a wedding once I can understand for the sake of the story; twice, you’re trying to catch that lightning in a bottle; but crashing three times or more and you got yourself a possible psychiatric condition.
Watching Wedding Crashers as an adult finds you rooting for Bradley Cooper’s character Sack Lodge (PHENOMONAL preppy douchebag name; not even Zack but SACK) way more than you ever thought possible. Whatever his sins were in the movie (cheating on Rachel McAdams’ character, his fiancé Claire, and being just a dick overall) he still has his life destroyed by a complete stranger who was hell-bent on banging his fiancé. Lets look at the facts:
- John flirts with Claire every moment he gets once he meets her at her sister’s wedding, sometimes right in front of Sack, and especially when Sack isn’t around.
- John ACTUALLY POISONS Sack with eye drops at a family dinner he and Jeremy were graciously invited to so he, John, could score some alone time with Claire while Sack pukes his guts out – and possibly fucking die for all John knows.
- John stirs Sack’s suspicions enough to get Jeremy shot in the ass in a hunting snafu then goes on a bike ride with Claire, leaving Jeremy with his wounds.
- John constantly harasses Claire after she had found out he was a wedding crasher and tells him to never speak to her again, leaving voicemails and even sending her a cat apparently.
- John shows up unannounced to Jeremy’s wedding, of which Claire is a bridesmaid, and begins whispering to her across the aisle how much he misses her despite her not wanting to hear or see him.
- John continues to bother her when she gets so upset with him that she tries to leave in the middle of her own sister’s wedding.
- John admits to a church full of people that he just came from crashing a funeral with his obviously diabolical mentor, Chazz.
- John badmouths Sack to Claire in front of Sack and everyone, telling her not to marry him because he feels bad about being a pariah for so long.
- John antagonizes Sack to a point where Sack gets understandably angry at everyone for allowing this self-admitted deviant to coerce Claire into throwing away their relationship (Why Christopher Walken’s character – Claire’s father – allows ANY of this shit to go down is beyond me. Then again it is Christopher Walken – he ain’t there to search for his character’s motivation.)
Then Sack takes a run at John to beat his ass, as well he should, until Jeremy knocks Sack on his ass. Instead of this turning into a melee, everyone – including some a Sack’s friends and family I imagine – just sits there for some reason and watches these two creeps kiss the women they’ve both masterfully fooled. What?
Jeremy’s case, admittedly, turns out to be less forced than John’s because Gloria, Claire’s sister and Jeremy’s now wife, turns out to be a bit of a sociopath herself. She posed as a newly deflowered nymphomaniac to attract Jeremy. “I thought that’s what guys wanted to hear.” Not that that excuses Jeremy’s previous behavior but his interaction with the priest explains pretty well how both his and Gloria’s perversions make them a match: “Maybe I’m a little fucking crazy.” Ok, I can buy that. That keeps Jeremy appropriately situated in the role of a self-aware maniac, instead of John who the movie tries to pass off as sympathetic. And Jeremy does suffer his come-uppance throughout the movie (getting dominated by Sack playing football, “getting jacked off under the table in front of the whole damn family,” getting a buckshot to the ass while hunting, getting tied and gagged by Todd in his sleep, and getting shot at again by the grandmother.) He endures horror show after horror show throughout the entire second act so it can be argued that karma is catching up with him. As ridiculous as it is that wedding crashing, at least this interpretation of it, is not looked at as the works of crazed lunatics, at least Jeremy acknowledges that he’s a lunatic for loving it so much.
Now having said all of that, I still enjoy the hell out of the movie. Vince Vaughn’s reactions to all of the outlandish shit he suffers will always crack me up. I will never not laugh at his grunts while he’s getting jerked off under the table or basically any time he’s losing his shit. That opening montage to “Shout” perfectly introduces the characters and makes you want to get hammered and dance at every wedding you ever go to. The other montage of John crashing weddings by himself in his depressed state is hilariously dark. There are one-liners peppered throughout the movie that will stand the test of time (“MA, THE MEATLOAF! FUCK!”) It introduced the world to Bradley Cooper. It made you fall in love with Rachel McAdams even more. It even inspired a reunion of Vaughn and Wilson for the less funny, but still enjoyable Google commercial of a movie The Internship. I like Wedding Crashers, honest to God. I’m just of the opinion it works better as a black comedy because the two main characters are headcases who just haven’t been diagnosed.
So throw on Wedding Crashers and watch the journey of these two psychologically distorted sociopaths who ultimately reap the benefits of their meticulously deceitful scheming.