The Real Wedding Crashers

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10-11 p.m., Monday, April 23
NBC


Desperate times evidently call for desperate shows. And even though things aren't quite as desperate at NBC as they were a year or two ago, this quasi-reality trifle smacks of something you would do if you had tried and struck out with everything else. Somehow, "The Real Wedding Crashers" got lost on its way to MTV or Spike, where it would fit somewhat better. It comes to us from the "Punk'd"/ "Beauty and the Geek" team of Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, but it lacks the imagination even of those featherweight excursions. It's "Candid Camera" on steroids, minus any semblance of heart. Any time you try to legitimize a feature film farce -- in this case, "Wedding Crashers" -- you're already operating on rickety ground, and the first installment of this six-part midseason hourlong series implodes on pretty much every level.

I mean, imagine this lame conceit: Five professional wedding crashers (it's like, what, now they have a union?) are pressed into service to essentially punk the attendees of a wedding both before and during the event. But for reasons evident only to the producers, the decision is made to have the actual bride and groom be in on the gag. I mean, wouldn't you think they'd be the only ones who shouldn't be privy to it? Perhaps someone was fearful of a lawsuit. That being the case, perhaps there shouldn't be a show at all. But that, of course, would be unthinkable. So instead, Derek and Jonnie (yes, the bride is named Jonnie) ride shotgun as the merry pranksters go undercover as annoying wedding staff and guests.

Funny, it would never occur to me to make a mockery of my own nuptials on national television. However, having been divorced twice, in hindsight perhaps this was my own shortsighted intolerance. So here we see the couple in interviews after the fact discussing how they wanted to do something that would make their joining in holy matrimony "totally memorable," because a mere wedding itself clearly is insufficient. They set out to transform their big event into a singular debacle, with hidden cameras capturing the spectacle of guests who are so dull that their reactions to the madness proves downright inconsequential.

Here is the requisite spoiler alert, folks. Don't read on if you have a problem with me ruining it for you (though I'd highly recommend it in lieu of actually watching). The guy who performs the ceremony receives a call on his cell phone in the middle of the vows that he decides to answer. The bride's wedding dress is picked up at the cleaners and "accidentally" dragged through the street while hanging out a car door. The reception hall where the wedding is to take place is shut down and tented for exterminators, purportedly because of an infestation of vermin and various insects. And the groom is arrested the night before the wedding for the crime of smoking contraband Cuban cigars out on the street.

All of this is done to elicit reactions from those not in the know. But again, their responses are often so muted that it serves to neutralize the hoax and shine a light on all the heavy lifting being done by the crashers. By the time we get to the reveal, it's pretty much irrelevant. The gathered guests cheer and applaud as if pleased to have been humiliated. I was looking for something closer approximating shock or disgust. Instead, indifference is as good as it gets. Oh, where have you gone, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

THE REAL WEDDING CRASHERS
NBC
Katalyst Films and Television and New Line Television
Credits:
Executive producers: Jason Goldberg, Ashton Kutcher, Rich Meehan, Jon Kroll, Jim Rosenthal, Karey Burke
Co-executive producer: Brian Smith
Supervising producer: Anna Pousho
Producer: Matt Mazzant
Directors: Jason Goldberg, Brian Smith
Story editors: Luke Deltredici, Aaron Hilliard
Production designer: Oscar Albuerne
Art director: Brandi Creason
Wardrobe stylist: Victoria Leonard
Editors: Jackson Anderer, Jason Pedroza
Music: Jeff Lippencott, Mark T. Williams
Casting: Allison Kaz, Nicole Garcia
Crashers:
Steve Byrne, Ben Gleib, Desi Lydic, Catherine Reitman, Gareth Reynolds
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