Dir: David Dobkin. USA.2005. 119mins.

Much is made of the recent ascension of a number of actors- including Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Jack Black and Owen Wilson- who, informally dubbed the "Frat Pack," have paired in various combinations ona number of studio comedy features. With the popularity of teen ensemble picswaning and Jim Carrey remaining devoted to counterbalancing comedic broadsideswith dramatic forays, Hollywood has been in serious need of a bankable humourinfusion.

They can call off thesearch. It's Vaughn and Wilson who headline Wedding Crashers, and thepair deliver a bada-bing smash. A charismatic and indefatigable romp thatstrikes just the right balance between well-sketched rudeness and sweetness,the movie stands poised to dominate the summer comedy sweepstakes.

North American box officeprospects, where the film opens July 15, should be robust, as positive word ofmouth and seasonal relevance (given that weddings are in full bloom) seemassured to help bolster the bottom line, ensure minimal weekly erosion andfurther establish Wilson and Vaughn, the latter of whom scored a big hit lastsummer with DodgeBall, as comedic leading man stars.

Internationally, comediesare known to frequently get lost in translation, but Wedding Crashersagain has the benefit of a universally understood setting, as well as theskewering of a dynastic political family that should also appeal to thosefamiliar with the monarchy.

Comparatively, Dodgeball did$53m internationally to just under $115m in American returns, and a similar oreven more optimistic ratio of return should definitely be within these Crashers'reach.

The story centres on JohnBeckwith (Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vaughn), two Washington DC divorce mediatorswho get their off-time kicks posing as brothers or friends and hopping fromnuptial to nuptial. There, they enjoy the free catering, alcohol and,naturally, love-hungry single women, sweeping the latter off their feet andinto bed.

Things change when the guyscrash the marriage ceremony of the oldest daughter of Secretary of the TreasuryWilliam Cleary (Christopher Walken). John falls hard, fast and sincere foryoungest daughter Claire (The Notebook's Rachel McAdams), leaving Jeremy tocope with the amorous advances of Gloria (Isla Fisher), an unleashed stallionof sexual rapaciousness and serial nuttiness.

John's would-be relationshipwith Claire is complicated by several obstacles, not the least of which is ofcourse his phoney identity. There's also Claire's preppy jock boyfriend, SackLodge (Bradley Cooper).

Writers Steve Faber and BobFisher devise a number of clever ways to extend the joke of Wedding Crashersbeyond the mere hit-and-run pleasures their characters derive, from having Johnand Jeremy bet on quoted scripture and ceremonial music (Johan Pachelbel's Canonin D, Richard Wagner's Wedding March Processional, etc.) to havingthem bound together by a leave-no-crasher-behind credo with all sorts of otherrider attachments that eventually leads to a cameo by fellow Frat Pack memberFerrell as Chazz, the sort of mystical patriarch of this culture of uninvitedparty-hopping.

The writers are careful,too, to paint John and Jeremy as impish advantage-takers who have a perhapsmisguided but nonetheless abiding love of weddings (and thus romance). This mayseem on the surface like bet-hedging, but it actually works better since theduo's prevarications are neither outlandish nor over-the-top. There are realcharacters here, and the laughs come from the absurd over-commitment to them,as well as some solid joke writing.

Director David Dobkin does avery good job of blending the film's disparate comedic styles, and while WeddingCrashers generally oversells the smarmy loathsomeness of Sack (making sureto paint him as a philandering letch so as not to retain any possible vestigeof audience sympathy), the Cleary clan - a nice admixture of Kennedy and Bushlore and speculation - provides a suitably rich backdrop against which John andJeremy can spin their wheels.

The cast all have a blastand, again, Wilson and Vaughn deliver fashionably winning performances. Butit's Fisher who achieves breakout clarity with her portrayal of the borderlinebipolar Gloria. In a world of demure or artificially amusing straightwomen,she's not afraid to play gleefully unhinged.

Production companies
New Line Cinema
Tapestry Films

International sales
New Line Cinema

US distribution
New Line Cinema

Executive producers
Guy Riedel
Toby Emmerich
Richard Brener
Cale Boyter

Peter Abrams
Robert L Levy
Andrew Panay

Steve Faber
Bob Fisher

Julio Macat

Production design
Barry Robison

Mark Livolsi

Rolfe Kent

Main cast
Vince Vaughn
Owen Wilson
Rachel McAdams
Isla Fisher
Christopher Walken
Bradley Cooper
Jane Seymour
Ellen Albertini Dow
Keir O'Donnell
Ron Canada
Will Ferrell
Dwight Yoakam
Rebecca De Mornay