Wedding Crashers

Wedding crashers – it was a great idea for a fun movie, but in real life wedding crashers are nothing but a headache. Having a plan to deal with wedding crashers is a good idea. You have the head count in to the caterer, the place cards on the table, and suddenly you are faced with extra people at the reception. This is a case where an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

Wedding crashers usually fall into two categories: invited guests who never sent in their R.s.v.p. and then show up anyway, or tag-alongs brought by invited guests. The best way to avoid these situations is to be very clear with your guests from the beginning. Address the invitations with the names of the people you would like to attend – don’t use so-and-so and guest. Also be clear with the response cards. Fill in the names of the invited parties, and do not use the type of response cards that allow guests to fill in the number of people that they will bring. Too many people take this to mean that they can bring whoever they would like.

Follow up on your invitations. If there are guests who have not responded, it may be necessary to phone them several times (if they are rude enough not to reply to a wedding invitation, there is no guarantee that they will return a call in a timely manner). This unpleasant task does not have to fall to the bride – she can delegate it to her mother, wedding planner, or maid of honor. The bride should certainly not have to be the one to leave a message saying, “Since we have not heard back from you, we will assume that you do not plan to attend the wedding on June 4th.”, should it come to that.

Much more rare is the malicious wedding crasher. This type of unwanted guest is usually a jealous ex-spouse or former boyfriend or girlfriend. If you have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that someone from your past is going to show up an cause a scene at your wedding, it is important to be proactive. Designate a couple of point people to handle the crisis, should it arise. Groomsmen are perfect for this (make them earn those groomsmen gifts! Grooms who gave out silver flasks as groomsmen gifts may find that their guys are up for anything after a few nips!). Be sure that the groomsmen know what the potential wedding crasher looks like, and instruct them to keep an eye out for that person. In very rare cases, you may even need to post a security guard at the entrance to the ceremony and reception doors.

Happily, most wedding crashers are well-intentioned, just unexpected. There are a couple of ways to deal with uninvited guests. The first tip is to be pleasant and gracious about it. The father of the bride or groom is a good person to handle the situation. They should be prepared to politely explain that since the person was not expected, they have no seat or meal awaiting them at the dinner table. Hopefully, the uninvited guest will get the hint and leave without a fuss. If there is a history of extra wedding guests in your family, you might want to just accept the reality and plan accordingly. One option is to have the chef prepare a couple of extra meals (although this can be very costly, because you will be obligated to pay for those meals whether they are eaten or not). A better solution would be to have a buffet or serving stations at your reception, then all you have to do is scrounge up a couple of additional chairs.

Weddings are complicated events, and there are always surprises that pop up. When the surprise is an uninvited guest, all you can do is deal with them pleasantly, either welcoming them to the party when feasible or gently sending them home if you cannot accommodate them. With a little foresight and planning, you can prevent wedding crashers from causing problems on your big day.

Two Funny Comedies, “Talladega Nights” and “Wedding Crashers”, But Only One is a Good Film

Wedding Crashers – 3 Stars (Good)
Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby – 2 Stars (Average)

There are comedies that can make you laugh that are not good films because they lack any meaningful substance or worthwhile message. An example would be “Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby”, worth a few laughs with Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby, but not able to get you emotionally involved in a character’s plight.

Then there are comedies that can make you laugh that appear to have a lack of substance, but slowly pull you into a character as you become emotionally involved with his situation. An example would be “Wedding Crashers” with Owen Wilson as John Beckwith.

So what makes one film good and another just average? The difference is in the script, the direction and the acting.

For openers, Talladega Nights was written by Will Farrell, who also plays the lead role, and by Adam McKay, who is the director. My experience has been that when the director of a film also writes the script, the script, the direction and the movie all suffer the majority of the time. When the lead actor of the film is also a writer of the film, the situation becomes compounded, like the blind leading the deaf through a minefield.

Both Farrell and McKay try to tell a story with their comedy but fail because not only is the comedy unbelievable, but the character of Ricky Bobby is not likeable enough to convince us that there is human drama unfolding here.

McKay joins a long list of other writer/directors who have bombed in these dual roles, including Vanessa Parise (terrible rating) for Kiss the Bride; Peter Weir (average rating) for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; Nancy Myers (average rating) for Something’s Gotta Give; Thomas Bezucha (average rating) for The Family Stone; Michael McGowan (average rating) for Saint Ralph; Jared Hess (terrible rating) for Napoleon Dynamite; Robert Rodriguez (terrible rating) for Once Upon a Time in Mexico; and Paul Thomas Anderson (terrible rating) for Punch-Drunk Love.

Exceptions to this dual role as writer/director are Kirk Jones (excellent rating) in Waking Ned Devine, and Tim McCanlies (excellent rating) for Secondhand Lions. Both Jones and McCanlies are master storytellers in these films, and other writer/directors who have failed could learn a lot from them.

Wedding Crashers, another funny comedy, is just the opposite of Talladega Nights in that Steve Faber and Bob Fisher can tell a good story, and David Dobkin can direct a good comedy film. Their effort comes together because Owen Wilson as John Beckwith is likeable and has the acting style and ability to emotionally connect with the viewer.

We can see ourselves in his predicament-living a life of fun and pleasure at the expense of others, and then developing a conscience that foreshadows personal growth.

After taking advantage of so many lovely, unsuspecting bridesmaids, he slows down enough to notice Rachel McAdams as Claire Cleary, who shares his sense of humor and light-heartedness. The more he looks at Claire, the more he wants to look at Claire.

Claire, however, is spoken for by a person she has not yet discovered is really a self-absorbed, dictatorial, manipulative, rich jerk, whereas John Beckwith appears more worthless but is wanting and willing to change his ways.

It is interesting that Vince Vaughn as Jeremy Grey’s character, Beckwith’s wedding crasher partner and best friend, is not nearly as likeable, although he also decides to get married to Claire’s immature, dippy sister Gloria Cleary (Isla Fisher).

I saw the unrated and uncut version of Talladega Nights, and the uncorked (not rated) version of Wedding Crashers, the theatrical version was rated R with sexual content, nudity and filthy language.

Despite watching the additional footage not shown in theaters, and enduring the sexual content and language, I would watch Wedding Crashers again but would not watch Talladega Nights again if you offered to pay me.

Moviegoers are fooled less often than you may think, and it becomes evident at awards time. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, was nominated in 2007 for the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Movie Comedy, but did not win. Wedding Crashers was nominated in 2006 for the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Movie Comedy and did win.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

Read more of my movie reviews on films with a lot more substance than Sex and the City, including:

“A Christmas Story”

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”

“Secondhand Lions”

“The Chorus (Les Choristes in French)”

“Waking Ned Devine”

“Chariots of Fire”