"The Wedding Crashers" -- I finally saw the sex comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn about a couple of likable sleaze-dogs who attend wedding receptions uninvited to meet bridesmaids who are in the mood for love.
Well, it's not a sequel, remake, or old TV show, so it's got that going for it, which is nice. (Otherwise, it's mildly funny, but it's making a lot of money because even mildly funny is unusual these days.)
It is, however, roughly the 300th comedy about weddings. It's a hit because Americans love comedies with "wedding" in the title. Our culture has become so casual that nuptials provide one of the few remaining formal occasions that can make indignities and embarrassments so much funnier.
Vaughn is an oddity, a comic actor with no apparent sense of timing. He simply spits out great bursts of semi-funny dialogue at high speed, with none of the rhythmic variation that comedians use to set up punch lines. (To see how it's normally done, watch for old pro Christopher Walken delivering a one-liner about his daughter's sweet 16 party late in the movie using his trademark off-kilter rhythm). Vaughn's shtick sort of works because we are used to movie motormouths being little Steve Buscemi-types, instead of an enormous 6'-5" 46 extra-long suitcoat galoot like Vaughn.
Mark Wahlberg: Heir to The Movie Gods -- Mark Wahlberg is a likable actor in a low-expectations sort of way, but why does Hollywood keep casting him in roles pioneered by famous stars? Reviewing "The Italian Job" remake of a couple of years ago, in which Mark Wahlberg took what was Michael Caine's role in the 1969 original, I noted:
For inexplicable reasons, Wahlberg has recently become the go-to guy to remake parts originated by screen legends. He has also recently redone Charlton Heston's role in "Planet of the Apes" and Cary Grant's in "Charade" (renamed "The Truth about Charlie"). Perhaps Wahlberg will next star in new versions of "Modern Times," "Citizen Kane," and "The King and I?"
This August brings us "Four Brothers," a remake of "The Sons of Katie Elder," in which Wahlberg will take on a role originated by ... John Wayne.
A reader replies
I feel like there's something cypher-y about Wahlberg. Maybe that has something to do with it. Like, rather than trying to match Heston/Grant/Wayne with a non-existent contemporary equal, the filmmakers just give us an unprepossessing semi-everyman into which we can channel our memories of the necessary charisma.
When I see Mark Wahlberg playing roles originated by Grant, Heston, Caine, and now Wayne, I can't help thinking that they've brought in a boy to do a man's job. And I expect that's part of the appeal of casting Wahlberg: he can help a movie skew towards a younger audience.
One of my big pet peeves about Hollywood movies is that there really are no longer any old-fashioned male stars like John Wayne or Robert Mitchum, i.e. guys who were tough and manly and not cute and pretty. Even today's action stars tend to be "pretty boys" like Keanu Reeves or Tom Cruise.
I think that helped sink "Kingdom of Heaven" -- the presence in the early scenes of the formidable Liam Neeson, who is built on John Wayne's scale, made Orlando Bloom look too insubstantial for his subsequent role as a military leader. In contrast, Bloom had done fine as the hero in "Pirates of the Caribbean," where he was contrasted mostly with the fey Johnny Depp.