— According to the Internet Movie Database, Vince Vaughn was born in Minnesota but moved after just two weeks (the fact that it was in March probably didn’t help). I wish he had stayed.
To me, he’s the ultimate friend. I wouldn’t say he’s the ultimate boyfriend; he’s never done a romantic comedy, which appears fine with him. But look closely and you’ll see he has had a number of on-screen love affairs. Just not with women. With his buddies. No actor working today is as committed to the exploration and expression of deep male bonding. He’s Robert Bly, only funnier, and drunker.
It started with “Swingers.” Most women I know don’t like him in it — he’s too ruthless when picking up women (it is cold the way he rips up the phone number just seconds after getting it) — but I love him for the way he looks after broken-hearted Jon Favreau. He’s relentless in bucking him up: he takes him to Vegas, stands up for him in the parking lot of the Dresden, gives him advice on approaching women (“When you go over there I don’t want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone’s really hoping makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you’re not sure whether or not you like yet”). And when Favreau finally does meet someone, you’ve never seen a guy as happy as Vaughn — jumping up on the table of the diner to make a production out of it. It’s hilarious but also touching.
Anything for a pal
The same thing happens with his relationship in Owen Wilson in “Wedding Crashers.” When Owen becomes smitten with Rachel McAdams, he needs Vince to take one for the team. And despite enduring an evening of forced bondage and tummy sticks, he can’t say no. Never leave a Crasher behind.
In “Old School,” he starts a frat so he can spend more time around Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell, two guys not happy in their relationships.
It’s even in the small role he took as a grain-elevator operator in “Into the Wild.” He tries to warn Emile Hirsch against taking dangerous risks. “This is a bad idea,” he tells him of his plans to live outside of society in the wilds of Alaska. Hirsch ends up not heeding him but Vince tried to warn him. Looking after him.
He may not be the best actor in the world — he really only has one serious expression, one of exasperation (the same one I had on my face for years when he was off doing Important Dramatic Work, like his role in “Domestic Disturbance”) — but he’s not afraid of emotion. He constantly not only shows his friends that he loves them, but actually tells them. Will Ferrell in “Old School,” Vincent D’Onofrio in “The Break-Up,” Wilson in “Crashers” — all have heard those three words from him. In a world where men mostly communicate through irony and box scores, that’s refreshing and, from what I can tell, unique to Vince.
The five kisses of Vince Vaughn
Plus there’s his habit of kissing men. I’ve counted five whiskered smooches in his career: Will Ferrell twice, in “Anchorman” and “Old School”; an elderly Jewish man in the beginning and the delightfully shocked Henry Gibson as Father O’Neil in the middle of “Crashers”; Paul Giamatti in “Fred Claus.” They’re joyful acts, not sexual, and I doubt any were on the page.
I also like the fact that despite his reputation for being Mr. Night On The Town, he loves staying home and playing video games, which let’s face it, I don’t care how amazing Wii is, is still not cool. But watch Vince when he taunts Patrick Van Horn in “Swingers” — “it’s not so much even me as it is Roenick. He’s good” — or charms Jennifer Aniston’s date in “The Break-Up,” who falls for him instead of her, and tell me you wouldn’t want to be on the couch with Vince as he does his play by play?
Now this is just on screen. Off screen, well, I don’t know the man. But let me just remind people that in 2001 he was rung up on assault charges in Wilmington, N.C., for sticking up for Steve Buscemi in a bar fight. Steve Buscemi! What could be nobler than that?
So it is no surprise to me that he decided to pile in a tour bus with four relatively unknown comics and book 30 shows in 30 nights, which is what he does in “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show” (coming Friday). He lives to surround himself with friends and give them a platform to thrive and feel good about themselves. It’s not a bad way to be.
I say keep the party rolling, Vince. You’re still as money as you were in 1996, only now you’re growns up and you’re growns up and you’re growns up. All I ask is next time you come to Minneapolis. I’ll round up some fellas, we’ll play Madden Football, check out the beautiful babies at Nye’s Polonaise Room, head to Mickey’s Diner. It’ll be fun. Come home.
Adam Wahlberg is the executive editor of Minnesota Law & Politics (“Only Our Name Is Boring”) and a classic Mike despite his desire to be Trent. You can reach him at