Apropos of virtually nothing (since when have I needed an excuse to talk about anything? Didn’t I go off on a tangent about The Bartman yesterday?), I want to chat a bit about The Wedding Singer.
It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by late game celebrities (Mr Smashmouth, Sisqo, Uncle Kracker) who disappear into the aether, but equally fascinating are those who stick around by perennially phoning it in. Adam Sandler makes it pretty evident that he doesn’t give a shit. He’s in it for the pay check and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. I do a job every day for the primary reason that it pays the bills. I’m not gonna give him shit for getting disillusioned. Hell, he also gets a steady stream of vacations out of it too. I WOULD.
And if someone wants to throw me in movies in exchange for vacations, I’ll do it. You heard it here first, folks.
Thing is, Adam Sandler was a total house back in the 90s. He was funny, sweet and had this amicable adult baby thing that feels a little too on the nose these days with Snake People still under their parents roofs. I loved him and my parents loved the films too. He was knocking it out of the park left right and centre. I’d eagerly consume every single one of his movies from Billy Madison until (maybe) Click hit the screen. Things changed and he dropped load after steaming load on the box office. My interest waned. Still, nostalgia and pseudo-snobbery being two of my favourite things, I wanted to see how this movie I loved as a kid stood the test of time.
I enjoyed it. Fuck that, I sincerely loved it and parts of me are trying to figure out why.
It’s littered with poor storytelling. Characters just flat out spout exposition like their roles in the film depended on it. Come to think of it, this is probably necessary given that it has such a nebulously advancing time frame. Every scene is either a big event, the day before or the week before. THINGS MOVE QUICKLY. Our characters meet when Robbie’s wedding is a week off. Julia gets engaged a week afterwards. The wedding is suddenly three months off. A week away. Tomorrow. The subsidiary characters fill in the blanks as best they can. To be honest, this is all fine. It’s a broad comedy and we’re there to tick off the fun of the weddings, show clean cut character transitions and see our inevitable couple grow together. The comedy shapes itself around these events and does a fine job.
That being said, holy shit does this movie ever eat dirt on the whole notion of show don’t tell. There’s no room for subtlety whatsoever. Every little joke and reference is underlined three times. There’s pretty hefty Monopoly Guy happening throughout. The script leans pretty heavily on that whole Jimmy Fallon technique of mistaking fun for funny. If the title card wasn’t enough they really want you to know that it’s set in the 80s.
With all that though, the movie is still a blast. Both leads are impeccably cast. You forget that young Adam Sandler had a decent career in musical comedy. He nails all the songs and sells the idea of genuinely enjoying what he does. Also every time he loses his shit and yells it’s straight up hilarious. Young Drew Barrymore is charming as hell and brings it all to her character. They’re both loveable and you want to see them come together. Despite the other tacky scriptwriting elements, the chemistry is handled pretty damn well. The seeds are sown throughout the film. There are callbacks, they’re considerate and there’s a genuine friendship that grows. By the time this all culminates in the airplane scene, it’s a sincerely sweet moment that feels absolutely earned.
The rest of the cast is built up well. Christine Taylor owns her promiscuity with zero shame. Allan Covert has hands down my favourite line read in the film (“They were cooooones”). Jon Lovitz oozes glorious amounts of skeeze in his two minutes on screen. Alexis Arquette, despite being a sign that transgender acceptance has come in leaps and bounds since the 90s, killed it every time with her sole Culture Club song. Steve Buscemi is fantastic (as always), the old man in the bar was adorable and Ellen Albertini Dow (not Betty White) is every type of huggable. Billy Idol, of course, deserves a solid mention.
I don’t know if it’s the lens of nostalgia, but those faults can’t hold it down enough. If you’re in the mood for pleasant feelgoodery, you can do far worse than The Wedding Singer.
Such as any Adam Sandler flick post 2004.