Unpacking the end of ‘Wedding Crashers’
“Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin has been waiting more than 15 years to talk about the ending of his classic comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as immature men sneaking into weddings to enjoy food, champagne and guest companionship.
Dobkin filmed the elaborate, expensive ending featuring the finale’s two surprise true-romance couples – Wilson’s John Beckwith and first love Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams) along with Jeremy Grey (Vaughn) and Gloria Cleary (Isla Fisher) – riding in an open convertible past the Washington, D.C., skyline. As the four set out together for new wedding-crashing adventures, the final movie moments feature a lingering shot of the Washington Monument.
With the debauched comedy’s 15th anniversary Wednesday, and the release of Dobkin’s “Eurovision,” starring McAdams and Will Ferrell (who played original crasher Chazz Reinhold), the director is taking on big “Wedding Crashers” issues that go beyond bromance. Like that final shot.
“After we made the movie, I was sure someone’s going to ask me about that ending and I’m going to have verbalize it, because I’m the filmmaker,” Dobkin tells USA TODAY. “And I remember afterwards being like, ‘It’s amazing no one asked why I move off them and tilt to the Washington Monument.’”
Now, Dobkin finally gets his chance to explain the meaning and the drama: In one of the most complicated scenes to make, filmmakers coordinated with police in the nation’s capital to shut down Constitution Avenue during D.C. rush hour to capture the best view of the monument.
“We had over 40 cops closing down almost every other street. It was just insane, a total mess,” Dobkin says.
But the director was able to execute four takes with a crane camera following the moving convertible, pulling up the camera for the gleaming monument moment.
“That’s the kind of thing you really fall on your sword for, the last thing you see in the movie and you want it to be really strong,” Dobkin says.
The moment harks back to the pivotal scene where Wilson and Vaughn sit on the Lincoln Memorial steps talking about life while looking up at the inspirational obelisk in the early morning. Growing up in the area, Dobkin used to do the same with his best friend.
“Owen is talking about putting down all this silliness and kind of getting beyond this,” says Dobkin, with the monument serving “as the goal on the horizon that they want to reach.”
At the movie’s end, they two are in real relationships and have matured (within limits), requiring a new view of the monument.
“The whole movie to me is a comingof-age story of boys to men, where you go from your primary interests being sex, to your primary interest being in love. They want to have a deeper connection,” adds Dobkin. “So that final symbol shows they have moved close to that goal.”
Clearly it wasn’t all about lofty Washingtonian ideals symbolized onscreen. The shape of the huge obelisk played a big factor in the monument casting.
“In the end, they got closer to the big phallus in the sky,” Dobkin says.
This evolution could continue. Netflix’s “Eurovision” was an accidental “Wedding Crashers” team-up of Ferrell and McAdams. (”A reunion never occurred to me, since they never did a ‘Wedding Crashers’ scene together,” Dobkin says.)
But both stars have said in interviews that they are game for a “Wedding Crashers” sequel. Dobkin confirms that he’s discussed a new script with both Wilson and Vaughn. He’s mum on the details, but “happy” with the script.
“After 15 years of talking we’re circling an idea that is not going to be the same movie again,” Dobkin says. “We are going to put some time into it and if we come out with something that we think is really great, we’ll make the film. And if not, we won’t.”
John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) were not invited to this wedding, but they celebrated anyway in 2005’s “Wedding Crashers.”