24 June 2007 | liquidcelluloid-1
A fresh premise and elaborate bits help "Crashers" succeed where many shows like it have not
Network: NBC; Genre: Reality, Comedy; Content Rating: TV-G; Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 4);
Season reviewed: Series (1 season)
OK, you're young, you're in love and you're about to get married. But you still want to have your parent's wedding. You don't want to embark on America's most conformist tradition without putting your own little spin on it. In that case, you hire "The Real Wedding Crashers". Or you would if it was still on.
If you were disappointed by the truncated, uninspired pranks of "Punk'd" or would just like to see absurdly overly serious people getting perturbed at a "sacred institution" being treated like a joke come on in. If you want to see pain, suffering, humiliation or something more authentic you're in the wrong place. This show is stupid, cheap, frivolous and fun. Yes, the bar has been set pretty low, but "Crashers" clears it with room to spare.
Despite NBC's promotion, "Crashers" has nothing to do with the 2005 Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson movie. Here is why it works. Something that nobody else seems to get. Real people are not funny. Watching real people flip out and get angry because they just got punk'd is not that funny. Where the potential laughs on "Punk'd" and other pranks shows rely solely on how furious "the mark" will get, "Crashers" is smart enough not to leave that laughs in the hands of amateurs. On this show, the real people and the wedding couple are pushed into the befuddled spectator role while the cast uses this occasion as a playground for some creative and at times very funny improvised bits.
Narration duties rotate among the crashers each week. A nice touch, because frequent host Gareth (Reynolds) mugs and smirks over his own antics more than Jon Stewart. Steve (Byrne), on the other hand is frequently hysterical at just about everything he does. The show is worth watching just to see Steve take a cell phone call while playing the priest or playing a bitter divorcée whose ex-wife was also invited to the wedding or lamenting the death of the Pontiac Grand Am he won on "The Price is Right" and lost his virginity in. Then there is smoking Cat (Reitman) who scores laughs as a psychotic guest who shows up in a wedding dress in one and gets in a cat fight over a poor nerdy guest in another.
The single best thing about the show is that the show focuses on one-wedding per episode and at a full 1-hour running time they are able to elaborate on all the bits far beyond anything you'd see on "Punk'd". They are stupider, crazier and more creative. Because the joke is pretty much on the crashers, they can do just about anything to themselves and not hold back. Unlike Ashton Kutcher's baby, which had one eye on making the celebrity feel comfortable.
You don't have to tell me that it is most likely not actually "Real". Once the big reveal is made at the end that "none of these things were accidents" the audience erupts in applause way too quickly. The several minutes no doubt taken to explain what the hell it means to "crash" a wedding for a show that has yet to air has been sloppily chopped out. Then everybody busts out and dances to "Shout", "Doctor, Doctor" or whatever generic party song we've got sitting around the network editing suite.
The crashers are playing for us, the audience, to make an entertaining hidden camera show, instead of thriving on the humiliation of unsuspecting innocents like is the driving force behind so much reality TV. It's funny and it's not rocket science. However it is put together, it is a terrifically entertaining hour that succeeds where many shows like it have not.
* * * / 4