It’s Vince Vaughn’s Party and You’re Invited (Updated)

Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Kevin Crossman
Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn

The Frat Pack of course is a play on words from the original show business group, The Rat Pack. That group was led by Frank Sinatra and featured stars such as Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford. As we look to the home video release of Vince Vaughn’s latest comedy, Couples Retreat, I think it is time to look at the Rat Pack and see what comparisons could be made to Vince Vaughn’s crew and the Frat Pack in general.

Like “The Frat Pack” the Rat Pack is not an official name, but a press-creation. The group of show business friends was actually an offshoot of an earlier “rat pack” led by Humphrey Bogart and Sinatra took over leadership after Bogey’s death in 1957. The crew called themselves “the clan” or “the summit” and performed in Las Vegas starting in the early 1960’s. These shows at the Sands casino featured comedy, singing, boozing, and unexpected guest appearances and other surprises.

Of course the actors appeared in several films together, either as paris or as an ensemble. The most famous of which was the original Ocean’s Eleven, a caper film that in many ways seemed more like a reason to hang out in Vegas than a piece of cinema with an important message. The clan starred in several additional films including Sergeants 3 and Robin and Seven Hoods before internal squabbles and changing cinematic tastes ended the reign of the group. The films especially also featured a variety of comely costars but these were women who could more than hold their own opposite the men: Shirley MacLaine and Anglie Dickinson.

The Frat Pack are a media creation as well as one engineered by the groups’ agents and management teams. And, as much as the members pooh-pooh the concept, the connections are obvious. That isn’t Mike Meyers making a cameo in Wedding Crashers. It’s Will Ferrell. Who cameod in Luke Wilson’s Wendell Baker Story. Who cameod in Ferrell’s Anchorman… With the success of the group and the split in management these connections are not as common as they were at the group’s height in 2004-2005, but the connecive tissue still remains with some of the Frat Pack members, especially Ben Stiller who can still find work for Owen Wilson and Jack Black, and also with Vince Vaughn.

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Bateman, Vaughn, and Favreau

The case of Vaughn is interesting and in many ways the best comparison to Sinatra’s Rat Pack. As documented in the documentary Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, Vince’s crew is not limited to movies. The documentary showcased Vaughn as the Master of Ceremonies as he performed live on stage with young comedians and his Hollywood friends. Frequent Vaughn collaborator Jon Favreau appeared notably, alongside Dodgeball and The Break-Up costar Justin Long. Vince also got to stretch his vocal chords by singing as well. The vibe of these shows was clearly influenced by the Rat Pack’s “anything can happen” showbiz ethic.

Movie-wise, it is clear the direction that Vaughn has chosen after his Frat Pack-centric box office breakout in 2003-2005. Unlike costars Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson who milked their man-child personas, Vaughn decided to tackle more difficult and mature subject matter. More importantly, Vaughn has taken a very direct role in the creation of these films, acting as Producer, Star, and often Writer.

In 2006, Vaughn capitalized on his Wedding Crashers party image by creating a dark romantic comedy without a happy ending. The Break-Up also served to illustrate how he would assemble the films in the coming years. As with Sinatra, a director-for-hire would be found to helm the movie. Pull in a smart and sassy female lead to keep up with Vince’s motormouth, and cast the film with as many of your friends as possible. As you look at The Break-Up, Fred Claus, Four Christmases, and Couples Retreat, you see a lot of familiar faces including Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Justin Long, and John Michael Higgins. Female leads Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are so similar as actresses that they even played sisters on Friends.

With Couples Retreat the key role that Vaughn plays in the creation of the film is best illustrated by the DVD commentary where Vaughn takes the lead at explaining the concept behind the film, not the director Peter Billingsley. Despite a twenty year friendship and recent collaborations, Vaughn barely lets Billingsley get a word in edgewise as he points out interesting facts about the production or the technical challenges of shooting eight to ten people per scene. This is not a dis on Vaughn (or Billingsley for that matter) but an illustration that Billingsley isn’t any more the creative force behind the production than director Gordon Douglas was on Robin and Seven Hoods.

Then, as now, the Pack’s main man is the guy in charge.

Leave a Comment and Win a Chance at a Couples Retreat DVD

To celebrate Couple’s Retreat’s release on February 9th, Universal is making available some free copies of the film. Leave a comment below and we’ll draw five names to win the DVD (region 1 only). ¬†One entry per person and winners will be notified via email. We’ll take entries up until 11:45 pm PST on February 8th.

What’s your favorite post-Wedding Crashers role? Do you think the comparisons to Sinatra are apt? ¬†Leave a comment below.

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Update:

Congrats to Jon, Alex, Beth, Adam, and Linda who were our randomly selected winners. They’ve been notified via email to provide a mailing address so that Universal can send out your DVDs.

17 Responses to “It’s Vince Vaughn’s Party and You’re Invited (Updated)”

  1. jon

    I have yet to see this movie, really looking forward to the dvd

    #1233
  2. jon

    as for the role post crashers, i must go with the breakup

    #1234
  3. christian

    i think it looks funny

    #1236
  4. Adam

    Vaughn’s best post-Crashers role would have to be The Break-Up.

    #1238
  5. joe B

    nice dramatic role in Into the Wild also

    #1240
  6. Pru

    His role in Into the Wild was all too brief, I would’ve loved to have seen more of him in that film.

    #1242
  7. Pru

    Kevin, since you’ve already listened to the audio commentary (of which I’m a little bit jealous), have you seen the film? What did you think of it? I was a bit disappointed with it. What did you think of the Guitar Hero sequence?

    #1243
  8. John Avs

    I think personally Vaughn has not made a good movie since Wedding Crashers, but I’d pick Into the Wild

    #1244
  9. Dan

    This film looks like it has promise.

    #1246
  10. Alex

    I rented Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland and watched it twice.

    Vince Vaughn is wonderful.

    #1247
  11. Tim

    Vince’s best role post-Crashers has to be The Break-Up. It showed he can hold a film up and even make Jennifer Aniston’s acting feel a little less stiff.

    #1248
  12. Kevin Crossman

    John, John… you really don’t think The Break-Up was a good movie? I thought Four Christmases and Couples Retreat were also good (but not great).

    #1251
  13. Nathan McFadden

    i saw couples retreat the day it came out in theatres. it was hilarious, favreau and faizon were golden in the movie. pick me pick me!!

    #1252
  14. Beth

    Vince Vaughn is the fast talking frat pack leader with the mouth to get things done! i think couple’s retreat is the first movie of his in a long time that i haven’t seen yet!

    #1260
  15. Ray

    Fred Claus

    #1264
  16. Beth

    ahh, that’s true… make that fred claus and couple’s retreat are probably the only 2 i haven’t seen yet!

    #1276
  17. Linda

    Fred Claus, hands down!

    #1286

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