It’s pretty remarkable there wasn’t a sequel to David Dobkins’ Wedding Crashers. If you don’t remember, it was an actual sensation. The Office even did an episode based on its plot. There were ripoff reality shows based on the idea of crashing weddings. And yet, the temptation to do another one was resisted. It’s kind of a miracle there isn’t two bad sequels. And Dobkins says the Monday after that opening weekend, the money was on the table, but there just wasn’t a story that didn’t feel like a complete retread of the first film. But, as he says ahead, he finally has an idea that he likes for a second Wedding Crashers.
In the meantime, Dobkins new film, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (on Netflix as you read this) reunites him with two of his Wedding Crashers stars, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. Ferrell and McAdams play Icelandic musicians who, through a series of unusual events, wind up as the Icelandic representatives at the Eurovision competition. (And this movie is just a ball. A ball!) Dobkin and Ferrell have been trying for years to reunite on something (he tells us about a couple of the failed attempts), but when this script got to him, frankly he had no idea Eurovision was even real – and even suggested a title change fearing no one would buy it.
I will say, being inside a lot lately, when your movie showed up it was just pure joy.
Aw, that’s perfect, man. That’s exactly what I would have wanted.
This isn’t the first time with one of your movies. When Wedding Crashers came out I had just moved to New York and had no friends, so I just kept seeing that over and over.
They’re your buddies.
Yes, those were my two friends when I first moved here.
John and Jeremy.
And now Eurovision is helping me through a pandemic.
That is really kind of the most special thing as a filmmaker you can hear, to be honest.
That somebody found a moment, not even just with the movie, but just there’s a moment in their life that fit in with the film that made it special and unique. It really is the most gratifying version of somebody enjoying it.
I’m actually surprised this is the first big movie about Eurovision, at least marketed to American audiences…
Oh my God, me too. Look, I was shocked as well. I kept saying it to Netflix, I’m like, “I can’t even believe that we’re the first people here.” Look, I was lucky. Will and I had been looking for something for 15 years and we’ve been very close on a couple of things, but they didn’t pan out for one reason or another. And when I got sent this script my agent said, “It’s a song contest movie.” And I was like, “Absolutely not. Pass.” And he was like, “Well, Will sent it to you and he wants you to read it. He wrote it.” And I said, “Oh, well, if it’s Will, I’ll read it, but I’m probably not doing this.”
And when I finished the script I said, “Look, it’s really good. I think I’m going to want to do it, but we have to change the title. This is a ridiculous title.” And there was silence on the end of the phone, and my agent said, “David, I think this is a real contest. You can’t change it.” And I was like, “What?” So I literally googled it and then I was like, “Oh my God. What is this?“
You mentioned you and Will tried to get a couple of things going and they didn’t happen. What was one?
We were making Neighborhood Watch together at Fox at one point and it was really exciting. I loved that movie. It later became The Watch, with Ben and Vince. But when we were doing it, the script was amazing, and it just seemed like it was going to be a really fun ride. And I just think budgetarily, we could never agree with the studio. They wanted it to be $50 million and we were at $70 million and I really wanted to make it Ghostbusters. I wanted it to be scary and fun and the aliens to be really unique, and they saw something with people in costumes and masks, and we could never quite come together with that.
It almost seems like a good thing that you didn’t make it? I realize your vision of it would have been something different, but if I remember correctly that movie got caught up in tragic real-world events.
Oh my God, I remember that.
That’s why they had to change the name.
Was that the George Zimmerman moment?
Yeah. It was.
Holy shit. I totally forgot about that, man. Yeah. I’m happy to not have been a part of that.
So that probably would have happened no matter what the movie was.
Look, I’m always concerned for movies, even right now, Mulan, which friends of mine made. And I know the movie happens to be really freaking good, and it’s just so sad right now. You’re like, “God, what is going to happen to that movie right now?” In this environment. This country’s going through, as far as racism and finally acknowledging our true responsibilities for our own past. And that minorities in this country are oppressed through financial inequality, amongst many other things. And now you finally have a movie with all Chinese cast and a Chinese lead and we’re in the middle of this thing and we have a president who is saying the most ridiculous, terrible shit every day.
Yes. Making racist jokes about the pandemic.
I’m concerned. Yes. I’m concerned for that movie because of that, exactly.
And then on top of that, if you go to a theater right now, you could catch a deadly virus and die.
Oh, that’s right. On top of that, you may die from going to the movies.
Yes. Don’t forget that part.
You do forget, by the way. That’s what’s sad.
When I mentioned earlier how many times I saw Wedding Crashers in theaters, how did that not get an immediate sequel? I’m actually impressed it doesn’t have one.
Thank you for saying that.
Oh, why is that?
Because you know what, man? They asked us to do it. I mean, they asked us to do it by Monday morning of opening weekend! And they put a king’s ransom on the table for us to say yes. And the couple times we sat down and hashed it out — Vince and Owen and I, by the way, we spent a couple of afternoons laughing our asses off, but in the long run, I was like, it’s the same movie. I don’t want to make the same movie again. It just felt like we worked really hard and we had a target in mind. It was almost like I led the battle of the bulge and we succeeded, and any good movie is really hard to pull off. And it just seemed really unlikely that we were going to make people as happy again the second time, especially at that point.
I would get a call every year, had I thought about it? Every year around July 15th, “Have you thought about maybe wanting to do this?” And I’m like, “I would do it. It’s that I don’t have a better movie to make or a movie that I think would be as good.” And about four years ago, I hung up the phone after saying no and I was like, you know what? Two guys that are in their mid to late 40s, that all of a sudden find themselves single again and have a skillset for that? But it’s actually a skillset that’s not going to work for them anymore? They’re kind of too old for this. I’m like, at least that’s a real story.
Right, so it’s actually a different story this time.
My friends that are in their late 40s who, either their marriages didn’t work out or they never even necessarily ended up with the girl that they wanted to marry. In either version, you can’t just have the life you want because you want it. And when you get later in age and you find that even going out dating is weird and strange and you’re looked at as a bit of an old man. I was like, that’s funny. How can we take that? That would be the story I would want to see of these two guys, and so we started hashing it out and we played around with it. It seems very promising. None of us feel like we need to go make the movie, we only would want to do it if we really thought we could nail it. But we’ve had conversations even recently. Owen and I connected last week and Vince and I connected the week before that, and there’s something that may be close. But we’re not going to move until we all agree if that ever happens. But that’s why we didn’t do it. I grew up remembering Jaws 2.
I literally just watched Jaws 2 for an interview.
Oh, that’s crazy, but that movie’s a mess. And my memories are of loving Jaws so much. And by the way, I was underage and too young to see that movie, I was six years old. But I remember two years later, or something, being eight years old, and at that point I had seen Star Wars and become a movie fanatic. And going to the theater so excited to have that experience again and being completely blue balled by it. I was like, “This sucks.” And that would happen over, and over, and over again with sequels, frankly. So sequels, for me, in my mind there were some good ones. We’ve all seen Godfather II.
The Empire Strikes Back.
The Empire Strikes Back, yeah. But we didn’t have that story yet. I think we may have it now. We’ll see, but we weren’t going to go make a shitty version and just cash out. I’m sure that my kids’ education would have been better off, been paid for.
I think The Hangover, the original The Hangover, is great.
It’s a classic.
And the other two, the response wasn’t as good, and I think it kind of brought down the whole thing with it because people kind of have a weird feeling towards The Hangover now.
I think it can color the original.
And Wedding Crashers is just a standalone comedy.
You’re taking advantage of an audience and promising the same thing and you’re not delivering it, and you know you’re not. And it’s like they have to keep buying the shittier and shittier version and I’m just not into that. And by the way, I thought actually Todd [Phillips] did a really good job with The Hangover sequels. They’re not the first movie and they can’t be. I felt at least the third one was a different kind of movie in a sense, and I kind of appreciated that.
The third one is definitely different.
But none the less, I do think that it’s really hard to make a sequel that’s going to be as good. Though, Austin Powers 2, I thought was better than Austin Powers, so they do happen.
‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ is available to stream via Netflix this weekend. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.