50/50 twitter polls aren't the easiest thing in the world so let's start there. Just recently I asked if you guys prefer an above-ground vs. in-ground pool and was swiftly informed that I basically asked if you like being rich or poor in a 91-9 bloodbath. Admittedly, I didn't handicap this one at even money given the inherent superiority of in-grounds. But I also didn't expect you guys to endlessly rail against the above-ground crowd in the process. In my mind there was room to at least start a conversation depending on your pool-circumstance, but that's different blog. For now the point remains that 50/50 twitter polls don't come around often.
But when they do, it's special:
I'm actually gluten free - your girl on a 1st date
Which brings me back to point of this blog and my July 14th Old School (OS) vs. Wedding Crashers (WW) poll. One more time for the guys in back:
Obviously this one was different. We saw countless lead changes, dozens of well-reasoned responses and even managed an equal 50/50 deep into the 10,000 vote range. For all intents and purposes it's the hardest I've ever made you guys think.
Are they #1 and #2 for the decade? That depends on your tastes. But I won't move forward without recognizing some other classics: Superbad, Stepbrothers, Tropic Thunder, 40 y/o Virgin, The Hangover, Anchorman, Super Troopers and whatever else is up there. But to be clear this blog isn't about those movies, or where OS and WC fall on the spectrum. Instead it really is just a matchup blog with one question in mind.
Which is the better movie?
I'd like to first feel the room so let's start with some peer observations:
Despite yielding 48.5% of the general vote, Old School gets a lot of love from my colleagues and rightfully so when you consider the audience. For the most part we're in our 30's and lived through prime years of these movies' releases. And in that sense Old School certainly set the tone for the decade, ushering in arguably the best stretch of comedy in American film history. Sue me for being dramatic but 2003-2009 was fucking SPECIAL.
At the end of they day though, it's my rankings and I ultimately have these in a dogfight 1-2. I was at least hoping the twitter poll would put me in the right direction. But as I said before and echo again, I had no idea we'd be this even. When you get to this point, you have to put your big boy pants on and blog your goddamn balls off.
With that in mind, I've broken my analysis down into 6-key areas that I will uses roman numerals for because that's fancier. The analysis will start with a balanced review of the top-10 scenes from both movies before getting into a comparative analysis between Quotability, Cast, Characters, Rewatchability and Better Laughs.
To prepare for this task, I rewatched both movie twice. While I won't penalize Wedding Crashers for this, it's important to note that I had to buy it at $14.99 while Old School was available to rent for $3.99 via Google Play. Probably could have found a cheaper option but I'm a sucker for convenience, which is also another blog for a different day.
575 words later, let's get started:
I. Top 10 Scenes
It's only fair to refresh ourselves with the best from both movies. And while I present these as power rankings, I don't want it to distract from a bigger conversation. The point is to get your brain activated to get the most out of the comparisons that come later while also reminding you of how fucking funny these movies are.
#10 - Shout Montage - Wedding Crashers
I'd put this montage up against anything that came out of the Rocky series and I mean that sincerely. The music, the laughs, WE ALL SAID JABRONI, everything about this scene just makes you want to post up at an open bar then wreak havoc on the newlyweds' dance floor. It's technically the 4th scene in the movie, but generally speaking this sets the tone for the next 2 hours.
#9 - Kidnapping Pledges - Old School
The biggest difference in Old School's humor is that it punches you hard and quickly. It's not about the witty banter as much as it is about the setting and circumstance. That 3 grown men would drive around a college campus kidnapping people like this is outrageously funny. YOU TELL ANYBODY ABOUT THIS AND I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU will have you crying and then shortly thereafter you see Blue get jacked into the van. The pacing and tempo is incredible.
#8 - Quail Hunting - Wedding Crashers
Just how I said the Pledge Kidnapping scene is vintage Old School, the Quail Hunting scene is equally representative. The banter back and forth between Cooper and Vince Vaughn is by far the best adversarial dialogue in both movies.
#7 - Wedding Scene (Ceremony + Reception) - Old School
The 2nd scene in Old School after Mitch walks in on his girlfriend's orgy and it's fucking awesome. You get Vince Vaughn on the alter, The Dan Band at the reception, Frank's dad in the audience, a couple of blindfolded people coming out of the bathroom ready to double team your girlfriend followed by the "I think what Mitch is trying to say is True Love is blind" save. Some of the combinations that get put up here would make a prime Mike Tyson blush. This is comedic movie making going All Gas No Brakes.
#6 - Motorboat - Wedding Crashers
You Old Sailor! Probably gets more playing time because of the impact "motorboat" had on society but ultimately just an unbelievably funny scene. She still here? he asks so sincerely because he wants to feel some hot older cans. Built for speed or comfort? Lots of quotes here that are still going and rightfully so.
#5 - Divorce Settlement - Wedding Crashers
Maybe you're surprised to see it so high, but to me this sets the stage for the best 2-man banter of the decade, possibly my life. The chemistry between John & Jeremy jumps out from the beginning before the credits even roll. Maybe not the most quotable long-term, but I love that the two of them are working together in the dialogue. Despite being best friends, this is one of the few instances in the entire movie where they are actively teamed up on the same side. For the rest of it they're basically at each other's throats. So for that reason alone I think it offers a lot more value because you see them at 100%.
#4 - Crabcakes & Football - Wedding Crashers
As I say above, a lot of Wedding Crashers is Jeremy & John not on the same page and nothing could be more clear than the football scene. I honestly can't even keep track of the laugh out loud moments here. Watching this at the AMC in Crestwood, IL made me feel like the roof was going to cave in from how hard we were laughing. Shoutout to the Friday 9:00pm showing from July of 2005 btw.
Point is you get some classic quotes from First Team All State to Crabcakes to Daquaris! to RED SEVEN. All of that has come up repeatedly in our lives again. But you also get some hilarious physical comedy of Vince Vaughn getting repeatedly truck sticked by an unknown Bradley Cooper. Then last but not least, Christopher Walken practically steals the show simply by asking Todd if he wants in on the game. WOULD THAT MAKE YOU LOVE ME.
#3 - Frank The Tank - Old School
There's nothing for me to say that hasn't already been said. The Bed Bath & Beyond line will go down in the history books. FILL IT UP AGAIN will be right there next to it. Some of the most classic Will Ferrell quotes of anything he's every done. Todd Phillips set this up perfectly with the Red Dragon scene right before where Marissa is begging for Frank's attention. I got Mitch's thing Saturday, remember? he asks. She reluctantly agrees but makes him promise to take it easy. We don't want Frank The Tank coming back now do we? Absolutely not. Those days are over. Finished.
#2 - Meatloaf - Wedding Crashers
Maybe I'm putting this one too high but same time you can't deny this completely stole the 2nd half of the movie. It's honestly so funny that you forget that Jeremy is getting married and not talking to John. Like I remember just casually pivoting first time around and thinking Okay now we're crashing funerals. Let's go crash some funerals.
#1 - Dart In The Neck - Old School
This could very well be the funniest scene of any movie in my entire life. Please don't make me defend that take.
II. More Quotable
When we say quotable, I'm talking from a practical sense of how often are you actually quoting this shit. I don't mean which movie makes for better quotes in a powerpoint presentation to your mid-market manufacturing client. I mean which one are you more likely to actually use in a conversation. And to that end, it's hard to take Old School over Wedding Crashers here. End of the day, Wedding Crashers has a much more relatable setting for dialogue: horny, dishonest guys trying to get laid vs. Old School's premise of 30-something year old guys slumming it with college kids. On that basis alone, society naturally finds more opportunities to relate to Wedding Crashers vs. Old School no matter how fucked up that may seem. Consequently, it's a more quotable movie.
I'd also argue it's got the better ones. The harder punches that break your nose open and send you to the emergency room whereas Old School just wants to get inside your reach and break your ribs with repeated blows. That makes for a more enjoyable pacing experience but ultimately Wedding Crashers has better quotes.
Winner: Wedding Crashers
III. Better Cast
15 years ago, it was Old School by a slight margin. Jeremy Piven as Dean Pritchard took it over the top at a time when Luke Wilson was the better Wilson brother. Vince Vaughn was just catching fire because people finally got around to Swingers, but Will Ferrell was clearly established as an A-list comedic actor. From there the concept of the Frat Pack was born and Hollywood was off to the races. It was a perfect mix of emerging stars mixed with experience mixed with Will Ferrell being a goddamn powerhouse in the early 2000's.
Over time though, it's impossible to ignore how well Wedding Crashers has aged. In 2005 you couldn't even compare the two casts, but now it's obvious with Bradley Cooper winning an Oscar and Rachel McAdams becoming America's consensus #1 girl to take home to mom. And that's before we address the ever-evolving lore of Christopher Walken or the legendary cameo from Will Ferrell. Pretty hard to overlook the entire body of work.
Ultimately though you remember a cast for what it becomes as opposed to what was at the time of release. Yes, it's an important distinction that Old School was better in the moment. But it's not enough to overcome where Wedding Crashers ends up. You can largely blame these two world class humans:
Winner: Wedding Crashers
IV. Better Characters
This one comes down to writing and execution with much less to do with the respective actors' legacies. Instead we're talking purely about the characters that come to life in the film. Which ones are better?
Old School is filled with harmless and lovable idiots. Guys that just want to have a good time and escape from reality for a bit. Maybe chase some strange young ass but that's more from a place of pain than anything else. If Mitch doesn't walk in on Heidi, maybe the plot is completely different. Ultimately though it comes down to just a group of guys trying to have some fun before accepting the next phase in life.
Wedding Crashers has a more upscale mix of white-collar characters, and nearly everyone is full of shit. Most of it is actually just about guys trying to get laid surrounded by brief exercises of serious romance. The only real character growth here is from Jeremy and that's largely accidental. Deep down almost everyone in this movie exercises extremely diabolical motives.
That's why this one's super easy to me. Old School has better characters which makes for more interesting scenes and more balanced humor. At no point am I ever distracted from the fact that this is 100% intended to make me laugh.
Winner: Old School
I think there's 2 categories of rewatching. First is the actual rewatch when you sit down and watch the movie. The second is having it as a background movie while you do something else. From the standpoint of an actual rewatch, I go Old School provided you are watching spaced out by at least a year. Otherwise comedies go stale and idk how you do it. But for purposes of this analysis, I say Old School is a better Rewatch-Rewatch. At 90 minutes and with better pacing, you honestly don't have time to stop and think.
Wedding Crashers is wayyyyyy better to come in and out of. Say you're taking the dog for a walk and it's on TNT. Or you're cleaning around the house and need something on the living room flatscreen. Or you're working from home. Whatever it is you want something in the background that can distract you, then you have to say Wedding Crashers.
Between these two, I have to say Old School's rewatch power is more important and thus award the points to Old School.
Winner: Old School
VI. Better Laughs
The 6th and final category. Arguably the most important because that's what you signed up for, remember? We're trying to find out which one is the Better Movie, and for that I want you to dig deeper. Ask yourself What's the point? of either movie and the conclusion becomes obvious. We're here to be entertained, and that entertainment is in the form of a Funny Movie. So you can simplify the question into which one brings the harder laughs.
Wedding Crashers has sooooo many good laughs. Quality, unique, immature but awesome laughs. It allows you to picture a smoother version of yourself that is confident and can command a room. That alpha-male charisma plays big in dialogue and leads to it being so extremely quotable. You also can't overlook the Meatloaf scene for being the best cameo of the decade.
Old School's laughs are more on the circumstance and setting. It's less about the actors delivering a script and more about the director piecing together a hilarious movie. Like it should blow you away that It takes Todd Phillips only 13 minutes to get to Frank The Tank streaking down the quad and into the gymnasium. You honestly don't even have a chance to catch your breath. The most serious part in the whole movie is Frank's note
To me that just makes for better laughs. Yes Wedding Crashers has the quotes and the longevity and the cast staying power. But across the board, Old School gives you better laughing experience which is what we signed up for in the first place.
Winner: Old School
I did not take this task lightly. What started as a simple question turned into a 48-hour search of moral integrity and personal values. I've watched and rewatched both classics. I've live tweeted my best moments and engaged with the audience. I listened to what's important but also held conviction in my own personal beliefs. Comfortably speaking, no stone went unturned.
That's why I'm comfortable reversing the original twitter poll and publicly siding with my colleagues and in favor of Old School. Maybe not the decisive victory you signed up for when you went down this rabbit hole with me. But also understand that not everything in life is so cut and dry. Sometimes you have to grind through 2700 words worth of longwinded introspection to get an answer.
This was one of those times.
Official Winner: Old School