"Wedding Crashers" is the kind of raunchy comedy that depends for its appeal on the fact that underneath the raunch we'll find it truly sweet. Which we do; its team of stars, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, are both lovably warm comic actors - very different in style, certainly, but neither one remotely capable of vicious behavior - and that warmth is what gives the film its many pleasures.
Wilson and Vaughn are John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, partners in a Washington, D.C. divorce-mediation office, who live not for their work but for what they do on weekends: crash weddings under assumed names and professions, in order to pick up women for one-night stands; they operate on the assumption that the women guests are more open and vulnerable to sexual overtures at emotional times like a wedding. And they're right; they dance the hora with the Jews, they drink with the Irish, they cry at all the right times. Vaughn even makes balloon animals for the kids, including one delicious moment when a cranky boy insists that he make him a bicycle out of the balloons. Whatever, it works. They get laid about as often as any overgrown adolescent could possibly wish for.
Their crowning crash is to be the wedding of the daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary (Christopher Walken, in a rather less creepy role than usual), which they attend as IPO mavens from Vermont or New Hampshire (they never quite get it right). There Vaughn meets another Cleary daughter, Gloria (Isla Fisher) and Wilson meets yet a third, Claire (Rachel McAdams, in a performance that shows she is capable of much deeper parts). The rest of the film is about what happens when they're invited to the Cleary family compound somewhere on Chesapeake Bay, for the weekend.
"Wedding Crashers" does not have what you might call an arc; instead, it gives us a generous sampling of comic moments, sometimes even coming one on top of another - a three-part sequence in Gloria's bedroom is the best - it starts with her tying Vaughn to the bedposts, continues with the arrival of her gay brother and his painting of a nude Vaughn and ends with the Secretary and his heart-to-heart talk. And frankly, I haven't laughed so much since "Me and You and Everyone We Know."
The film has some drawbacks. Vaughn and Wilson are getting a bit long in the tooth to play these kinds of adolescent games. Claire has a fiancÚ (Bradley Cooper) who is a one-note caricature of the vicious, brutal 'other man.' And the film drags in Will Ferrell to play Vaughn's mentor in wedding and funeral crashing that is more embarrassing than witty. But the summer - and the year so far - has been so depressing that by contrast "Wedding Crashers" stands out as a winner. Be thankful.