'Wedding Crashers' plays it naughty and nicer
By Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
By Terry Lawson
The most significant decision ever made by the Motion Pictures Association of America's ratings board may have been the one that allowed certain words that once would have doomed a film to X (later, NC-17) territory to be heard in R and, later, PG-13-rated films, as long as they were stripped of their immediate sexual context.
As silly as the rule may be, it has been a boon for a new wave of R-rated comedies — including "The 40-Year-Old-Virgin," "Waiting" and, especially, "Wedding Crashers."
"Wedding Crashers," starring party boys Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as otherwise presentable young professionals who crash weddings and receptions in search of turned-on bridesmaids and guests, was one of the few summer hits. It made more than $209 million stateside alone, making it the year's fourth-most-popular film (after "Star Wars: Episode III," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and "War of the Worlds").
And few in the movie business doubt that its raunchiness — mostly verbal — played a major role in its success.
As has become the norm with the post-"American Pie" naughty-but-nice comedies, the DVD can be purchased in both its theatrical version and an unrated one, titled "The Uncorked Edition" (New Line). It has about eight minutes of additional footage, the raciest of which may a bit in which Jeremy (Vaughn) retires to his bedchamber as a guest at the home of the U.S. treasury secretary (Christopher Walken), looking for a respite from the secretary's sexed-up daughter. Alas, the worn-out Jeremy finds a most unexpected visitor.
While "Wedding Crashers" will be sold and rented primarily to people who have already seen it, the week's other marquee-name theatrical title, "Broken Flowers," will undoubtedly have its art-house box-office take doubled or tripled by the release of the DVD (Universal). Directed in his deceptively deadpan style by Jim Jarmusch, "Flowers" stars Bill Murray as a wealthy ladies' man, who, informed via anonymous note that he may have a son he never knew of, goes on an extended road trip to reacquaint himself with the possible mothers, an extremely mixed bouquet of Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, Sharon Stone and Tilda Swinton.
Murray's lean-to-the-point-of-inscrutable performance in "Broken Flowers" was originally seen as a possible best-actor Oscar contender, but he's a long shot at this point. Nevertheless, there is much about this melancholy comedy to enjoy, even if it is hardly as deep as some critics claimed. A pair of brief and perfunctory featurettes are the only extras.
ARCHIE BUNKER'S WORLD
There are TV boxes aplenty to begin the new year, including "All in the Family — The Complete Fifth Season" (Columbia-TriStar), compiling all the episodes from 1974-75, in which Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his support of Richard Nixon in the wake of raging inflation that sent his wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), to work at the drycleaner shop of George Jefferson. This season also includes "The Jeffersons" spinoff pilot, and a 100th-show clip narrated by Henry Fonda.
"Gunsmoke," the groundbreaking western series, finally gets an official DVD release, in remastered form, as "Gunsmoke — 50th Anniversary Edition Volumes 1 & 2" (Paramount), even though the anniversary was last September. "Vol. 1" (17 half-hour and hour episodes) and "Vol. 2" (12 hour-long episodes) are also available separately.
"Vol. 1" begins with the first-episode endorsement of no less than a fellow who introduces himself with "My name's Wayne — some of you may have seen me before — I hope some." The Duke then goes on to explain that the show we're about to see is not like most TV shoot-'em-ups that have been aired in the still-young days of network TV. It's more in line with the films on his storied resume, he promises, and he is telling the truth.
The first show, "Matt Gets It" introduces us to Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness, who also contributes a fine commentary, and primary players Dennis Weaver (as sidekick Chester Goode), saucy barkeep Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) and sawbones Doc Adams (Milburn Stone).
Fans will be thrilled by the presentation, but perhaps not by the format. Instead of offering the series, which had a record-breaking 633-episode run, in season-by-season boxes, Paramount has chosen a "best-of" format, with "Vol. 1" covering 1955-64, and "Vol. 2" cherry-picking the seasons of 1964-1974, when the show finally concluded — to be followed by a number of made-for-TV movie reunions.
This will likely send hard-core devotees to Web sites that offer unauthorized "Gunsmoke" collections, and though some of these are excellent reproductions, others, if you can excuse the pun, are pretty dodgy.
Also, "Have Gun Will Travel — The Complete Third Season" (Paramount) collects 39 episodes, broadcast in 1959-60, on seven discs. The series starred Richard Boone as the gunfighter whose classy business card featured an engraving of a chess piece with the words "Wire Paladin — San Francisco." A booklet contains program notes for each show.