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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir David Dobkin|
scr Steve Faber, Bob Fisher
with Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour, Bradley Cooper, Keir O'Donnell, Will Ferrell, Henry Gibson, Rebecca DeMornay, Dwight Yoakam
release US/UK 15.Jul.05
05/US New Line 1h59
Here's to the bride: Vaughn and Wilson
Enjoyably silly but far too long, this buddy rom-com has sharp enough characters and a witty script that keeps us laughing when it wants to. But the problem is that it spends long stretches of time trying to make us cry. Or something.
John and Jeremy (Wilson and Vaughn) spend each summer crashing weddings for free food and hot chicks. They're smooth operators, lying their way from bed to bed, following a time-honoured set of rules. But after 17 years, John has the urge to settle down, falling for Claire (McAdams), who's not only daughter of a powerful politician (Walken) and his vampy wife (Seymour), but also engaged to an all-American jerk (Cooper). As Claire's sister (Fisher) sets her sights on Jeremy, they head off for a weekend with the whole family. Bad idea.
When Wilson and Vaughn are on screen, the film is thoroughly good fun--they spark off each other brilliantly, maintaining the buddy chemistry while escalating the banter, rivalry and even bitterness that comes with spending too much time together while refusing to grow up. And both have surprisingly strong chemistry with their leading ladies. McAdams steals the film with a sexy, witty, intelligent performance, while Fisher is hilariously depraved. The entire supporting cast is very strong, adding terrific comedy value (the one exception is the far too broadly quirky O'Donnell as the girls' arty brother).
But the film doesn't settle for comedy. It stretches desperately to find some sort of resonance in this ridiculous story, putting the boys through a falling out that would work if the filmmakers didn't rub it in so painfully. There's a disastrously preachy/slushy sideroad near the end--at least a half-hour in which there's not a single laugh. And the strain had already shown by this point; director Dobkin maintains a sunny and energetic tone, nicely juggling the humour and action, but he can't resist extended, repetitive montage sequences that feel interminable. When he's focussing on the central duo and this nutty family, the film crackles. But he really needed a more brutal editor.
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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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