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Raunchy ‘Wedding Crashers’ hit and miss

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson pick up ladies and free drinks at weddings. By John Hartl

What is Sen. John McCain doing in a movie as mangy and raunchy as “Wedding Crashers”? Just so he can share a scene with Christopher Walken? Or is this an early hint of his next Presidential campaign — perhaps an attempt to cross over and court racy-comedy fans, like Richard Nixon’s “sock it to me” appearance on “Laugh-In”?

McCain appears for only a few seconds, apparently playing himself (as does James Carville), while Walken is cast as a fictional Secretary of the Treasury. The Washington Monument also makes a couple of appearances that seem just as pointless. Although the movie is set in Washington D.C., much of it could have been set in any place that attracts the rich and idle.

The title characters are a couple of divorce mediators, John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Klein (Vince Vaughn), who are longtime pals. Their chief hobby is impersonating relatives in order to crash lavish weddings, where the booze is free and so are some of the bridesmaids.

The wedding of the Secretary’s daughter offers them their biggest challenge. They not only slip into the event without being labeled as impostors; they wind up falling for Walken’s other, goofier daughters. Jeremy at first tries to flee from Gloria (the scene-stealing Isla Fisher), who pretends to be a virgin, but he sticks around when she reveals that she’s a dominatrix at heart.

John bonds with Claire (Rachel McAdams), whose snarky side comes through when she can’t stop giggling as her sister takes a vow to be her new husband’s “best friend and first mate.” Henry Gibson turns up in a couple of scenes as the priest who presides at the wedding, but the filmmakers leave him standing at the altar, looking wistful and wasted.

Later in the picture there’s another surprise cameo appearance, by perhaps the most overexposed actor in contemporary cinema, who appears to have been brought in to pump some life into a sketchy vehicle that needlessly pushes the two-hour mark. At a preview screening, the audience seemed overjoyed at his entrance, but the enthusiasm died down when it became evident that the writers had forgotten to supply him with a character to play.

The chief inspiration for the script came from producer Andrew Panay, who crashed a couple of weddings with a buddy when they were in college. Screenwriters Steve Faber and Bob Fisher (from the 2000 television series, “The Trouble With Normal”) wondered what might happen if these guys “were older and really shouldn’t be doing these kinds of things.” And who better to portray a couple of overgrown adolescents than Wilson and Vaughn?

David Dobkin, who guided Wilson through the so-so 2003 sequel, “Shanghai Knights,” is the director. Once more he falls back on his star’s stoned-surfer charm to carry the picture, though Wilson’s chemistry with both Vaughn and McAdams is off-and-on. Simply hopeless are Bradley Cooper as Claire’s obnoxious boyfriend, Jane Seymour as Walken’s vixenish wife and Keir O’Donnell as his unloved gay son: a walking, talking stereotype whose predatory presence ruins every scene he’s in.