Considering that Greg is primarily a populist, that he can't help from photographing his tableaux in magic hour (stupid hour as my landscape friends sometimes call it) and that he seems to have a penchant for "enchanting" narratives (yes, I know, he's reaching for the uncanny but in the end he's more like Spielberg than Kronenberg or Lynch) I don't think the comparison to the painter of light is all that ridiculous. If you choose to believe his spiel you might believe his primary influences to be Spielberg, Norman Rockwell, Kubrick (center weighted compositions), O Winston Link, Edward Hopper and Robert Adams (sharp focus all the way across the frame). Of all those he comes closest to Spielberg. He'd be lucky to approach the zeitgeist the way Rockwell did. He doesn't stand a ghost of a chance in approaching the subtlety and depth of the others. Ultimately, it's a lot easier to control your "influences" than the most apt comparisons. And all things considered, I think, for better or worse, he's the high art world's version of Kinkade.
"At least he is doing interesting work, a lot more interesting than finding someone else's tripod holes"
Perhaps. However, your counter example evokes the ultimate shortcoming with Crewdson as a photographer (not as a art world maven) - he has no respect for Reality. "Finding someone else's tripod holes" reminds me of Mark Klett and co. work with the rephotographic project - a project that to my eye is far more conceptually interesting than anything Crewdson has done. Despite the fact that Klett lacks the hubris to describe this work as "uncanny" it strikes me as being far stranger than the tight-assed, overly aestheticized, highly derivative vision of this chooch.