Dallas native Owen Wilson turns 53 years old today, and I thought we should celebrate with several videos of how great he is. He’s been in a million movies, half of them directed by fellow Texan Wes Anderson, and he’s part of the Wilson media family along with his brothers and fellow actors Luke and Andrew Wilson, and his photographer mother Laura Wilson. His career is too distinguished for one part-time blogger to adequately cover, so I just want to discuss three of my favorite roles of his.
Before we dig too deep I did want to mention there are no Wes Anderson roles included on the list, and there’s a good reason for that: Wes Anderson movies are always about the ensemble more than any one actor. Owen Wilson’s performances are, by designed, tempered by everyone else’s because Wes Anderson likes to have a level of congruity and team effort in his movies that make it difficult for any one person to really, really stand out. Or at least that’s my opinion, and I don’t know the first thing about movies, so a grain of salt is in order I’m sure.
Kevin Rawley, Meet the Parents
First, let’s look at his role as Kevin in Meet the Parents.
Classic. “Not too bad, about 70 hours, which isn’t bad considering I carved it all by hand, from one piece of wood.” Or how about “Well, so was J.C.! Wow! You’re in good company” as a reply to “Greg’s Jewish.” Incredible. Just a top notch performance. For how little Owen Wilson was really in the movie, he really stole these scenes. Perfect.
And then there’s this one, where Kevin does that super annoying thing where a peer clearly has his shit together in a way you can’t even imagine. Of course, Robert De Niro has to interject with “Greg’s a male nurse.” Timeless.
Hansel McDonald, Zoolander
I saw this in theaters at the ripe old age of 12. Weirdly, I remember it because Zoolander was released shortly after 9/11, and I was a 12-year-old seventh grader at the time. Wild, right? While the whole world really focused on moving forward in a new type of existence, I was take a brief break from reality to watch Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell be ridiculous. But I digress.
Okay, so, this moment in Zoolander was one of those where I laughed way too hard in the theater and actually had to step outside for a moment. Why? Because it’s funny when middle-school-aged boys hear the word “balls,” every single time. But also, this whole scene is ridiculous. Billy Zane. Paris Hilton. Owen Wilson saying he’s been bathing with spider monkeys. Ben Stiller being so, so dumb. It’s just perfect. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, my friends and I would say “derelick my balls” to each other all the time until we graduated from high school. [insert my wife saying “boys are gross” after reading this]
Then there’s this scene where Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are trying to get some files off a computer and slowly devolve into simpler primates (with the almost necessary homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey). There’s nothing even particularly witty about this scene. It’s just two grown men hooting like frustrated monkeys as they try and get “into” the computer. Still love it though.
John Beckwith, Wedding Crashers
I want to begin by saying this is my personal favorite for three reasons. First, I actually went to high school with a guy named John Beckwith, who could not be any more physically different than Owen Wilson, and that always cracked me up. Second, I used to watch this movie on my iPod Video on the way to and from sporting events my junior and senior years of high school so I just generally have a soft spot for the film. And finally, when I was in law school I mediated divorces to make some extra money and so this opening scene really began to speak to me.
Now, I know this one doesn’t have a ton of Owen Wilson screen time, but it’s still just so funny. Especially hearing Dwight Yoakum say ” hey, I got an idea: why don’t you just kiss my left nut” with a hatred I have never felt for anyone. Brilliant. I will say this: this is an incredibly inaccurate portrayal of a mediation, but Owen Wilson’s fake optimism to try and bring the divorcing couple to some sort of compromise is pretty spot on. That was always one of my favorite moves. But this is just great. Also, it shouldn’t need to be said, but there’s plenty of NSFW language in this clip so be careful.
Owen Wilson as the straight man to Vince Vaughn’s increasingly deranged character is comedy gold. This very short clip takes place right before they crash the wedding that is most relevant to the movie’s story, and Vince Vaughn wants to take on a ludicrous personality for the crash. Owen Wilson bring him back down to earth but not without getting a few jabs in. “I’d like to be pimps from Oakland or cowboys from Arizona but it’s not Halloween. Grow up, Peter Pan. Count Chocula.” Every freaking time. That Count Chocula gets me every single time.
Gold. Absolute gold. I love it.
Happy birthday, Owen. Don’t tell Luke and Andrew, but you’re my favorite Wilson brother.