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January 30, 2006

Boys of Summer 2005

weddingcrashers.jpg

Wedding Crashers
David Dobkin - 2005
New Line Region 1 DVD

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The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Judd Apatow - 2005
Universal Pictures Region 1 DVD

"Hilarious" said Clay Smith of Access Hollwood about Wedding Crashers. "Hilarious" stated Paul Clinton of CNN about The 40-Year-Old Virgin. And so I have to ask myself, are these guys more easily amused, or is it possible that I am "humor impaired"? There may also be those who argue that these two very popular comedies from last summer were made for a demographic that revoked my membership card back in the Reagan years. I would like to think that funny is funny, if you don't mind a little tautology here. To put this concern in context, I should explain that the last film that really made me laugh out loud was Jean Renoir's Boudu Saved from Drowing, made in 1932.

Of the two films, I liked Wedding Crashers because it was fairly amusing for the first hour or so. When it stopped being funny, I had to at least give director David Dobkin credit for maintaining something like a visual style with some attractive tracking shots. The point is made of being location specific, in this case Washington D.C., with the Washington monument given appropriate Freudian attention. The main reason to watch Wedding Crashers is for the repartee between Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. They seem to enjoy playing off each other to the point where the narrative gets in the way. What I also found satisfying is that even after the Wilson and Vaughn have their respective and obligatory "life lessons", they didn't totally change from the characters they were at the beginning of the film.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin had a couple moments of mild amusement, like the chest waxing scene, and a scene depicting speed dating. I was troubled by the way the film tried to simultaneously make a joke out of Steve Carell's virginity with the narrative lurching from one bad date after another, and scenes of misguided male bonding, and at the same time present the virginity as a badge of honor. That the film was less visually interesting may due to writer-director Judd Apatow's background in television. But back to my original questions, I know that there are people who find Michel Simon uproarious seventy-three years after he was filmed stumbling around the Left Bank. Will there be anyone as similary enthused about the virgin and the crashers seventy-three years from now?

Posted by peter at January 30, 2006 12:30 AM

Comments

I missed Wedding Crashers but managed to see The 40 Year Old Virgin twice, on DVD, including one viewing this past weekend. I think it's a kinda funny film but it's not nearly as funny as my friends kept insisting to me, and I'm surprised at how it even got some critical credibility as something of a 'gross out comedy with substance' (much like Crashers did). It all seemed pretty rote to me ... so I'm in the same boat you are on this one.

Posted by: Zach at January 30, 2006 10:23 AM