So…where to begin here?
Ok so both Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn have been stressing that they could’ve teamed up at any time for a WEDDING CRASHERS reunion (that is a movie with both of them not connected to the original), but they did not want to do anything cheap just to tap into the good will. Similarly, they’d have loved to do a WEDDING CRASHERS sequel but a script worthy of that original never came into being. I want so badly to believe that that is true. That THE INTERNSHIP is a great script that they really did wait for and are only making it because to not make it would’ve been a cinema crime. I want to believe.
Based on the trailers though…I’m having a pretty hard time with that. It seems exactly like a slapdash script written to re-team to trade on the goodwill generated by an earlier hit. Hopefully I’ve got that wrong though. Maybe THE INTERNSHIP will truly be the STIR CRAZY to WEDDING CRASHERS’s SILVER STREAK—which would be great news because it means we have a Wilson-Vaughn SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL in our futures.
Anyway, to prepare for this flick, the obvious choice was WEDDING CRASHERS so that’s what I went with. I also added REAL STEEL, the last feature film director Shawn Levy helmed before this one.
This was the movie that first taught us all to love Bradley Cooper.
No? Not this one? Well, ok, if you say so.
What I think we can agree on is that it is the last truly fun/funny Vince Vaughn role in films and arguably the best effort at tapping into Wilson’s laconic comedic chops since, dare I say, BOTTLE ROCKET?
But, chances are, if you watched the movie, you know that. And if you haven’t, well…what are you waiting for, chaps and dames?
So who I want to focus on instead is Isla Fisher. She enters the picture when the nuptial invading duo choose to attempt the mother of all crashes, that of Treasury Secretary Cleary’s daughter. (Cleary’s played by Christopher Walken in a way that, while still odd, is largely without the sort of Walken clichés that have crept into a lot of his latter day comedic work). Fisher plays Gloria, one of the Cleary’s other daughter—who also include Amy Adams as the unfortunately named Claire, John’s (Wilson) crush and the fiancé of the uberjerk Sack Lodge (Cooper) and the target of Jeremy’s (Vaughn) (usually) fleeting lust.
At first blush, Gloria is an ultra naïve mark, easily manipulated by Jeremy’s obvious pandering and instantly over the moon about him. However, as the story progresses, she deepens. For one, she trapped him as much, if not moreso, as he has trapped her, lying about one aspect of herself with such straight faced sincerity that the audience is convinced as well until she reveals the deception. For another, she’s…well, carnivorous. Vaughn is right to be afraid of her (he calls a “clinger” after their first tryst) but not for the reasons he initially assumes. The casual cad only after sex gets his karmic comeuppance in spades and Fisher gleefully commits to each over-the-top moment while still not ending up some kind of cartoon. It is, I suppose, a caricature of male terror of female sexuality but when the actress is performing it all with such aplomb, it tends to evade that easy, lazy symbolism.
WEDDING CRASHERS stands up on repeated viewings with strong leads, some good supporting players, and a particularly skewed view of the world that still lingers even after some of the pat romantic comedy elements. Only Keir O’Donnell’s performance as the lone male Cleary sibling Todd is a sour note. Not because O’Donnell doesn’t play it well but because, as the seemingly only non-heterosexual person in the entire world of the film, his very creepy, boundary-less behavior feels about gay panic-y with no correcting event ever arriving. Still, a recommend from me.
Here’s the thing about REAL STEEL. It is absolutely, undeniably a movie about robots boxing. It is also a kind of sports movie where an absent father is able to reunite and reconcile with his son through aforementioned robot boxing rather than, say, just realizing enough was enough and making an attempt to be a decent dad and make up for years of being neither physically or emotionally available to his only child.
It’s also pretty great.
Yes, it sounds stupid and clichéd and there is an even a dancing scene involving robot and aforementioned son. All true. Still, it’s good.
Deal with it America, because there it is. In a 2011 filled with many movies that I found enjoyable in any number of ways, REAL STEEL was an undeniably entertaining film that had one of the better father-child dynamics of the year. I might even put it up there with the father and son struggling with the death of the mother/wife duo of SUPER 8 and the father-daughter as friends relationship in MONEYBALL.
Yeah, I said it.
Now go out and get your robot boxing movie watching on!
(Just so you know, other great parental depictions from 2011 included the boy and his deceased father in flashback and the emotionally closed off genius filmmaker grandfather and his seemingly equally genius but in a different way granddaughter in HUGO and the black-ops flavored father-daughter bond in HAYWIRE.)