Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.
The Wedding Crashers is not a romantic comedy, it is a postmodern comedy. Vaughn along with Owen Wlison play a couple of divorce mediators: Jeremy Grey and John Beckwith respectively. The central premise is that two jokers infiltrate weddings to score with ‘romantically inflected’ women: “Get out your net and get ready to capture some butteflies” is a paraphrase of the way Jeremy metaphorically describes it early in the film.
As mediators they help divorcing couples through the process of separation. They are the romantic-discursive equivalent of the welfare state. The welfare state acted as a social security safety net to ensure that people were not consumed in the ‘natural’ ups and downs of the capitalist market. The divorce mediator pair ensure that a little bit of ‘sense’ is added to or removed from what is denoted on one side of the table from the other; and when there is a slump in proceedings, they mobilise sentiment (‘love’) as a form of catalyst (‘quasi-cause’, see below). They stand in as the inverse to the wedding priest. The priest seeks to obfuscate the intertwining of sacredness and economics, they unpick this intertwining and lay it bare through their mediation sessions.
The infiltration process enables them to satiate a cynical libidinal desire. The wedding ceases to be an institutionalised threshold-event whereby a relation is recognised in law as it is allegedly over-coded by the sacred. As mediators the duo efface all sacredness; for them there is the law-milieu and, as Vaughn’s character says, “It is the institution of marriage that is to blame.” There is a separation between the institution of marriage and the wedding-event. The institution reduces becoming to a constant state of being across a number of registers: romance, interpersonal belonging, etc. It is meant to capture wayward libdinal energies and desires so they resonate with another according to the legal and sacred overcoding of ‘us’. Note when Wilson’s character falls for Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams) she is laughing at sister and her sister’s fiancee/husband as they get married. Claire finds the vows they are exchanging to be comical; she can only read them in terms of a cynical pastiche of love. This is reinforced during the speeches when she is attempts to be funny and her jokes fall flat. She uses a line that Wilson’s character gave her about love: “Love is the soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another.” Which she initally describes as ‘a little cheesy’.
On the other hand, the charm of the wedding-event comes from having a knowing intimacy of the specific rituals and probabilities of the actions that constitute the event. The wedding ‘season’ is a ritualised serial-form of events, like a sporting or hunting season. Note the irony of how they deplore hunting, then dialogue about humans being the ultimate prey, and how this describes their actions at wedding-events.
The duo tap specific flows of desire assuming that at weddings — where for two people at least desire is overcoded with the legal and sacred responsibilities of marriage — desire is unleashed across the event for everyone else, especially weak-knee’d females. Desire is the motor cause of the event; flows within overcoded familial assemblages, legal assemblages, celebratory assemblages, and so on. Peta Mailins has researched how female drug injectors in Melbourne tactically engage with commodified public spaces by ‘folding’ the necessary singular gestures of shoppers into their subjectivities so as to ‘fly under the radar’ and inject in relative peace and safety. Similarly, this duo tactically engage with the constellations of gesture that we recognise as the subjectivities that circulate at weddings: They produce a false sense of belonging. (See above photo of them celebrating at a Jewsih wedding after the Chatan (groom) breaks the glass.)
Vaughn and Wilson’s respective characters deploy the power of the false. They are not wedding guests; their intimate knowledge of weddings and their ability to use this knowledge to facilitate certain becomings transfigures them as necessarily more-than-wedding guests. As McAdams’ character puts it they are “hits at the wedding.” They are realer-than-real; witness (during the early ‘wedding crash’ montage) the way that other wedding guests actually fabricate memories so that the interlopers’ attendence makes sense. The wedding-event is example of where the power of the false is enabling. Everyone shares the belief that they are, as Wilson’s chracters phrases it, “in the presence of true love.” The ‘truth’ of the love is actually a fabrication that allows for the circulation of particular affects which christen the event as a ‘success’: gaeity, goodwill, and so on. The wedding crashers recognise that although libidinal energies come to be the motor-cause of celebration, it is love, real or imagined, that is the quasi-cause of weddings:
“It abstracts from bodies and things a transcendental plane of ideal identities: a glorious [husband and] wife, a glorious [extended] family, a glorious [wedding]. (“It carries the real beyond its principle…”) Then it folds that ideal dimension back down onto bodies and things in order to force them to conform to the distribution of identities it lays out for them. (“…to the point where it is effectively produced.”) It creates the entire network of resemblance and representation. Both copy and model are the products of the same fabulatory process, the final goal of which is the recreation of the earth, the creation of a new territory.”Â