Total Recall: Owen Wilson's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Internship star.
Indie classics, animated hits, well-reviewed dramas, and blockbuster comedies: Owen Wilson has done it all. But one thing he's never starred in is his very own Total Recall, so when we noticed that he'd be reuniting with his old Wedding Crashers buddy Vince Vaughn in this weekend's The Internship, we knew we needed to rectify the situation with a fond look back at some of the many critical highlights from Mr. Wilson's varied filmography. It's time to pay tribute to the man who brought Marmaduke to life, Total Recall style!
10. Shanghai Knights
In one way or another, most sequels fall victim to the law of diminishing returns, and 2003's Shanghai Knights is no different: while it performed respectably with critics and emerged as a mid-sized hit after its box office run, this attempt to recapture the unexpected fun of 2000's Shanghai Noon couldn't help but feel a little stale in comparison. Still, most critics felt that reheated Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson was better than none at all, and after viewing their reunion -- which took their 19th-century odd couple to the UK in order to avenge the murder of Chan's father -- Richard Roeper compared the duo to one of the classics, saying, "Like an Abbott & Costello comedy, Shanghai Knights is truly dumb, sometimes inconsistent, but awfully funny."
Reuniting after the six-year layoff that followed The Royal Tenenbaums, frequent collaborators Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson paired up for 2007's The Darjeeling Limited, a typically quirky dramedy about three eccentric brothers (played by Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) who struggle -- not always entirely successfully -- to reconnect by taking a train ride across India in order to reunite with their mother (Anjelica Huston). While a disconcerting number of critics felt Darjeeling found Anderson settling into a rut, the majority felt that even if he was treading somewhat familiar ground, he managed to do it with style. Calling it "Arguably Wes Anderson's most compassionate, mature film," Nick Rogers of Suite101 credited the film with "[dancing] around disconcerting what-ifs: If they weren't your brothers and sisters, would you voluntarily befriend them, or do you tolerate quirks and annoyances because blood links you?"
At a comparatively paltry 74 percent on the Tomatometer, 2006's Cars represented something of a critical setback for PIxar -- but while the reviews that greeted this John Lasseter-directed tale of a young racecar (Owen Wilson) and his quest to wrest the Piston Cup from a pair of challengers (Michael Keaton and Richard Petty) weren't up to the usual Pixar standard, audiences didn't mind; it grossed over $460 million on its way to spawning a sequel (and a spinoff), and even if it didn't measure up to Pixar's previous, it was still good enough to earn praise from scribes like Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News, who wrote, "no other outfit can match Pixar's knack for plucking heartstrings without tearing them off the frets."
Part of the R-rated comedy renaissance of the aughts, Wedding Crashers may not have given Wilson the opportunity to do anything new -- here, he appears as John Beckwith, a soft-spoken lech with a heart of gold -- but it played squarely to Wilson's comedic gifts, had a solid Steve Faber/Bob Fisher script, and surrounded Wilson and his co-star, Vince Vaughn, with some terrific supporting talent, including Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, and Isla Fisher (as the crazy nymphomaniac who thrills and torments Vaughn in equal measure). Though some critics had problems with Crashers' uneven tone -- and the scads of gratuitous flesh on display in the movie's opening montage -- most found it too much fun to resist. "The likes of the sneakily subversive Wilson and Vaughn deserve better," wrote MaryAnn Johnson of Flick Filosopher, "but this is darn close to a perfect showcase for what they can do, and how much better they do it together."
Westerns and kung fu movies have enjoyed a close relationship for years, and that rich shared tradition is given a tongue-in-cheek salute with Shanghai Noon, an action-comedy that transcends its goofier elements (Lucy Liu plays the female lead, a character named Princess Pei-Pei) and delivers a well-rounded blend of humor, adventure, and -- of course -- jaw-dropping stunts. Jackie Chan stars as Chon Wang (say it out loud with a drawl), a Chinese imperial guard who is sent to Nevada to rescue the princess, kidnapped by agents of the villainous Lo Fong (Roger Yuan). Of course, no sooner has he arrived in Nevada than he gets tangled up with Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), a rather inept outlaw who starts out hijacking Wang's train and ends up becoming an invaluable ally in his quest. For some fans, Shanghai seemed at first like just another Americanized buddy project for Chan, who had already done this sort of thing with Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. Chan and Wilson proved a duo worth watching, though; on their way to a $99 million gross (and an eventual sequel), they earned praise from critics like the New York Times' A.O. Scott, who wrote, "Shanghai Noon is, in classic western tradition, a celebration of male bonding, unabashedly juvenile, boyishly risqué and disarmingly sweet."